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The lessened novelty, the rain and the timing – before local students have gotten back into the swing of things – all conspired such that this past weekend’s second iteration of Avant Fairfax wasn’t quite as well-attended as the first. But that didn’t stop eight bands (and one filmmaker) from putting on an entertaining spectacle in an unfinished second story of a nameless commercial building in downtown Fairfax.

Some personal highlights:

  • Janel and Anthony‘s set was my favorite, a cello/guitar duo that bounced between experimental noise and beautiful, pastoral melody.
  • Max Ochs (pictured above) performed a Turkish song, confessing that he doesn’t know a word of Turkish. His lyrics were a “trans-phoneticism” (his term) instead of a translation – he basically took the original Turkish vocals and turned them into their closest English analogue by sound alone.
  • Gondola played a single long jam with gobs of head-nodding riffs, psychedelic wailing and no dynamics whatsoever. They’ve got the Earthless-style heavy psych-rock thing down to a T.

More thoughts and photos after the jump, and see the full gallery here.

Although this second installment of Avant Fairfax seemed more loosely run than the first (no running order was posted and announcements were made in an ad hoc manner), the timing was perfect at least up until I left, and the music was diverse yet arranged logically – with the more acoustic/ambient acts playing first and the harder-rocking bands going on after the screening of Proud Flesh, which made for a nice intermission in the music.

I was completely exhausted and bailed during Chromatic Mysteries‘ set, some time after midnight, and missed Dark Sea Dream. As I walked from the festival to the free parking lot a block away, I could clearly hear Scott Verrastro and company’s raucous free-improv screaming out of the windows of the venue and bouncing around the streets of downtown Fairfax. It was a perfect way to leave, a surreal juxtaposition of “out” music and a peaceful, old-fashioned suburban setting.

Apparently, this juxtaposition is welcomed by the city of Fairfax. Avant Fairfax has received a renewed grant from the city for next year’s event(s), so despite the lower attendance of the second event, this won’t be the last we hear of experimental music in the suburbs.

Moon Pie:

Janel and Anthony:

Mark Fosson:

Scarcity of Tanks:


Chromatic Mysteries:

Full gallery here.