Here is a video of a music gig. First up is SHAMGATE. SHAMGATE has recently been described as being the disco Ivor Cutler. The space (3m x 3m) has been prepared as a music venue with humble lighting equipment (a hand torch spotlight and some LED fairy lights).
The gig takes place in a little coffee shop called Pena in a building that was once used as a practice space and recording studio by bands like Belle and Sebastian, Frightened Rabbit and Snow Patrol. Most of the room is built from MDF. The sound system is a small pair of home-recording active monitors and a mixer.
At the same time as providing an appreciative audience with prophetic synth and philosophical insight into life as a boy - SHAMGATE takes on the role of the emcee suggesting, "It's really warm in here, shall we take a break?"
After the cigarette break, the audience drifts inside, a projector has been setup and there are no drums, guitar, or bass visible. There is only a portable projection screen and a lone micro synth.
All of a sudden a familiar authoritative voice fills the room; the voice commands an audience member to locate the VCR that is under the projector on the floor. The voice directs the audience member to push a VHS tape into the VCR.
Immediately, as if by magic, the VCR automatically plays the tape when it is pushed inside its rectangular mouthgob.
A form arises from a pile of coats in the corner holding a microphone wearing an indescribable costume.
Monoganon's performance was listed on facebook as "the Monoganon VHS Performance". This sentence begs more questions than giving a preview of what to expect.
We tracked down Monoganon's spokesperson John B. McKenna to enlighten us:
Why not play a regular gig of guitar, bass and drums like usual?
On this particular occasion the other members of Monoganon were not available to play live.
Why not play solo with a semi-acoustic guitar or something?
The music Monoganon want to make is not justified by such a performance.
What is the meaning of the costume and the videos?
The costume is nothing. The fabric is patterned like space with some stars but mostly blackness. It doesn't mean anything, it is vast emptiness, and the costume makes the performer discrete and hard to look at so the audience looks at the screen. The screen is a distraction from what is going on.
So, why VHS?
We all feel an undeniable affinity with the VHS player. It is obsolete and temporary, almost forgotten.
Maybe it should be forgotten, what is so good about it?
Years before televisions had the technology to play back in stereo sound, VHS players could do it, so if someone recorded music videos off MTV on their Mono television it meant when they played their favourite songs back they had it in stereo sound. There is no conclusive proof that music lovers actually did this during the heyday of the VHS.
So you want to showcase this niche, retro-fetishized object?
It just so happens that VHS can play music and video at reasonably high quality. It is not lo-fi, it plays back audio at the same quality as a CD player. Some artefacts might be nostalgic but it's not the point of it.
Why not just use a laptop?
If the VHS fails then there is possibility to use a laptop, but us humans tend to distrust digital technology, and VHS being analog is more trustworthy.
You think a laptop would purposefully crash to your detriment?
Paranoia wasn't the intention of using VHS.
What can people expect from the experience?
The limitations are being discovered during the performances. There is no boundary between the stage and the ears of the audience. The only boundary is the individual's attention span but no-one can ignore if someone whispers in their ear.
What would you say if someone said VHS probably means "Various Homogenic Songs"?
Neither agree nor disagree