West Kensington Ministry on Norris Square is the newest DIY music space in Philly (their first show was August 10). I have to say the event staff was as welcoming and organized as I’ve seen in a while. Kudos to Local & DIY for having their shit together. Unfortunately, only 30 turned out for experimental/noise guru Eric Copeland’s Saturday night set. However, Copeland appeared to embrace the DIY atmosphere of the venue and supported the local opening acts as he greeted fans for most of the night at his merch table. I had previously seen him open for Avey Tare at Johnny Brenda’s last year. Copeland had, in many ways, overshadowed Avey Tare that night, and I’ve been looking forward to a headlining set from him for a while.
You could hear a pin drop during the Lattimore/Zeigler Duo’s opening set, and I was unsure if the seated audience was initially bored or simply showing respect for two local musicians. The small crowd did erupt with applause when the duo finished, so I assume it was the latter. West Kensington Ministry’s sound system provided a positive first impression but received its real test during Eric Copeland’s obnoxiously loud follow-up. It was a massive relief when the volume was turned up to max when Copeland took the stage. The Black Dice founding member proceeded to melt the faces of all in attendance, ripping through a setlist of tracks didn’t include much from his two most recent LPs, 2012’s Limbo and this year’s excellent Joke in the Hole. Often is the case that Copeland’s live shows rarely feature tracks in their recorded form, as his samples and performance tend to take new directions.
The setlist flowed without pause or time for breath, as Copeland slowly built a wall of deafening sound through the addition of pitch-shifted samples, fuzzed out loops and playful beats. But he’s at his best when he’s incorporating distorted, reverbed and layered vocals. Copeland tends to stand still behind his knobs and sliders but comes to life a bit when he picks up the mic. The backdrop of bible-inspired art juxtaposed with uncompromising noise added an extra sense of eeriness. Highlights of the setlist were “Fiesta Muerta” from Limbo and “U.F.O.s Over Vampire City” from his 2011 Whorehouse Blues EP. As for West Kensington Ministry’s grade via Local & DIY? Staff and organization was an A+. Sound system was an A-. Not putting the chairs away during Copeland’s set: F.