June 22nd, 2011 | Live reviews

Mom by Chris Payne

The 2nd annual Folktale Fest, and the triumphant return of Sean Carnage Monday nights at Pehrspace after a very brief hiatus, made for a packed crowd on a warm summer night. As I entered I found Sacramento performance artist/musician Mom dancing away, half-clothed and squeaking in a cutesy pitch-modified falsetto to novelty type music in a classic Mouseketeer hat. Surrounded by streamers and balloons and dim red lighting the whole experience was very surreal. Mom has a reputation for being quite messy (think blood, urine, and cake) but she toned it down to simply rubbing squids on the audience and covering herself with milk while a giant man-baby breastfed from her in what seemed like an animatronic Disney tableau gone awry. Next up Knight Rider took to the stage with dreamy synth-pop that devolved into creepy Lynchian territory at times, but was unfortunately cut short due to some technical difficulties. Thundersnail played an epicly haunted set involving a Chinese dulcimer, which just might be one of the most beautiful instruments I’ve ever seen. Folktale Records’ founder Chris Payne followed as Whitman, this time backed by a cavalcade of local musicians–former Mae Shi members Ezra Buchla and Corey Fogel on viola and percussion respectively, and Rich Seymour of Clark 8 on cello. Even with that full of a band, Whitman maintained a very sparse, personal sound with a power that packed the room. LA expatriate Jon Barba (formerly known as Nicole Kidman whilst performing) followed up with a set that alternated between upbeat keyboard tracks and completely acoustic guitar performances. A natural performer who manages to transfer his own awkwardness and vulnerability into something that can command devoted silence from the most raucous crowds, Jon’s power as a musician only increases over time. Finally the monstrous Bay Area free-jazz-meets-noise-punk quintet No Babies kicked into a set that rivaled their already infamously epic live performances culminating in a feverish mosh pit that had a new year’s feel as people ripped apart the streamers and popped the balloons prior to the closing soundblast, “Be the Best.” Of course a Monday night at Pehrspace wouldn’t be complete without a dance party to a set of DJ Kyle Mabson playing pop jams and 90s guilty pleasures. If tonight is any evidence, Folktale Records seems to be successfully establishing a new auditory narrative based not on genre but on context and personal expression.

-Walt! Gorecki