Girlhouse looks a lot like Women across town, and apparently the home was designed by the same architect, says inhabitant and L.A. Record writer Drew Denny. Go figure! Porch Fest II took place on Dec 5 with performances by Kevin Greenspon, Geoff Geis, Nicole Kidman, Brother Mitya, Voice On Tape, Whitman, Interlude in, Drew Denny, Lola Loshkey, a late-night visit by Surfer Blood, and more… Musicians played on the front porch, the side porch, the front room, Morgan’s room, Drew’s room & bathroom, the kitchen, and inside a unicorn’s crotch.
Girlhouse illustration by Morgan Lee Gerstmar
Midway through the night, I was wandering around Girlhouse when I heard a noise behind one of the girls’ doors. I impishly cracked it open and saw Drew and Morgan with their backs turned, rehearsing a song. The haunting melody seemed to seal them off from the rest of the party, blowing a bubble around them, like the bubbles they’d blown around Geoff Geis earlier in the night as he sang the love-sick ballads of his youth. I closed the door again without being noticed. Minutes later, Drew opened the door and invited everyone in. It was a relief to see the room that had felt that lonely music fill up. Luckily, I got a great seat on Drew’s bed with about ten other people (and the rest sat on the floor) because I don’t think the whole party was able to fit inside. The twilight blue color of Drew’s walls and her green plants were a soothing contrast to the Obama porn collages and strobing Christmas lights in the living room. Drew wore a vibrant orange dress and a hat that made her look Russian (but I’m not a clothes expert). She apologized for her first song, saying it was the first song she’d ever written. But it was pretty and dreamy, and no one would have ever guessed that. We only felt more privileged to be sitting in her room listening to it. She sang into the mouth of a stuffed pink unicorn with golden wings that hid her microphone. The second song was the one I’d heard before, a new Big Whup song called “No Mommy,” with that optimistic yet fragile melody. Morgan played slow notes and plucked her viola, holding onto the emotion. Then Drew’s keyboard picked up with this groovy Charlie Brown jazz riff that was fun and came out of nowhere. For the last song, Drew requested that the lights be turned off and sang alone. It made the crowd invisible, and gave me that eerie feeling of being alone with the music again. When the lights came back on, and she sincerely thanked everyone for listening, I understood why.
—Pablo Capra, Brass Tacks Press
This was the first party of the cold season, and everything seemed darker than normal. A strange feeling of sickness permeated the house (thanks Whitman!). The performers all played sad and honest music, and one even broke down violently while playing. Porchfest II was, above all else, a celebration of epic catharsis. And at the end of it all, in the smallest bedroom of the house, Lola Loshkey sucked all of that palpable emotion out of the air and spit a bizarre and distilled version of it back at us—a total throbbing mess, collecting all the little pieces of the night and reconfiguring them into a terrifying and alluring package. Mixing burlesque fantasy with energetic self-flagellation, the singing skeleton writhed on the bed and humped a pink pegasus while yelping and muttering through a phaser pedal. Sitting below the singer, a saw-playing skeleton kept her head fixed at a creepy forty-five degree angle—providing a eerily still counterpoint to her flailing compatriot. Sonically, they created a weird whirring soup of gibberish.
It’s easy to dismiss avant-noise as a tired genre. Most of the time it seems like a pointless exercise, made lazily by uninspired people. But Lola Loshkey has the proper sense of spectacle. More importantly, they have the proper sense of purpose. As stark and punishing as they are, they’re also deeply humorous and hopeful. Near the end of their ten-minute orgasm of improvisation, the singing skeleton got really low to the bed and broke down laughing. That was the best part.
His fingers were tarantulas deciding whether they’d walk out of the shadows or stay in the dark kicking the dirt, watching dust collect on their shoes. Nicole Kidman is one man on giant old keyboard. His voice cracks as it climbs a glass staircase out of his throat. Suffering sums it up, but there’s more to disarm and put back together. When he stopped playing, pushed his hair from his face, shuffled his feet, and yanked on his jacket—it seemed the whole room wanted to hold him, make him feel better. He asked for money for his tour, people gave him money. Shoot, I even bought a shirt, which I then lost somewhere in Girlhouse (rumors claim it’s still there…). His unique fragile power pulls heartstrings and makes you want to reassure him kindly, and, by default, might reinvigorate your own faith—or at least makes you a caring liar.