Rich Aucoin, Terror Pigeon
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Planet Booty is probably not what you think it is. If you haven’t yet experienced the infectious power of their live shows, or danced and sweated along with these impressively talented musicians, or felt the intense, penetrating gaze of frontman Dylan Charles Germick as he begs you, in all sincerity, to love yourself no matter what… then you don’t quite have the full picture yet.
Their original music uses electronics and live instrumentation to create a driving electro/funk/RnB blend inspired by classics like Miami Bass, Prince, Talking Heads, Zapp & Roger as well as modern influences like Major Lazer, Chromeo, Daft Punk. It all adds up to a smart, sexy, and playful sound serving a simple obsession with spreading joy, making bodies move, and cultivating the positive self images of their followers.
Conceptualized in Oakland, CA in 2009 by brothers and Indiana transplants Nathan and Dylan Germick, Planet Booty grew over the next few years into a hugely popular six-piece dance party machine with a reputation for pushing each show to the limit, often adding additional singers, dancers, and horn sections. As word traveled and popularity grew, they began touring regularly along the west coast from San Diego to Seattle. The demands of the road finally compelled them to reconfigure all that energy into a highly efficient three-piece touring unit consisting of Dylan (vocals/trumpet/beats), Josh Cantero (vocals/keys/trombone), and Rob Gwin (bass/percussion/software). With this new format Planet Booty hit the road hard in 2015, touring as far east as Chicago and appearing at festivals including Symbiosis and an an official SXSW showcase.
“Dylan Germick is a true performer and every moment on stage he is there to entertain.” — Spinning Platters
“Planet Booty’s rabble-rousing, sweat-a-thon theatrics are just part of the package, which includes a ‘Soul Train’-worthy six-piece band playing an infectious blend of funk, soul, R&B and electro.” — SF Examiner
“Planet Booty are my favorite band. That is all.” — Jane Wiedlin of the Go Go’s
“Not to get too caught up amongst the posterior puns, it should be noted that, above all, Planet Booty packs a serious musical punch behind their antics.” — Life Is Awesome
The cruelest irony of life is that we never feel more alive than when we’re staring down death. In those precarious moments, every fabric of your being is cranked up to 11: the uncontrollably pounding heart, the dizzy head, the fight-or-flight adrenaline rush that courses through your entire body. But even if you’re fortunate enough to have never endured a near-death experience, you’re well familiar with all those feelings—because they just so happen to be the very same physical sensations that overcome us when we’re approaching euphoria. (Not for nothing did the French nickname orgasms “la petite mort”—i.e., “the little death.”)
Since releasing his first EP in 2007, Rich Aucoin has made it his life’s work to transform our fear into fun, anxiety into ecstasy, panic into pleasure. A mad DayGlo-pop scientist in the tradition of Brian Wilson, Wayne Coyne, and Dan Snaith, Rich is the sort of artist who has no time for half measures, utilizing all the resources and connections at his disposal to ensure his every gesture is a Major Event. To wit, his first proper album, 2011’s We’re All Dying to Live, was a 22-track orchestro-rock magnum opus that, once you factor in the numerous choirs on hand, featured over 500 collaborators. But making music is only half the story with Rich—each of his releases to date have been constructed in tandem with companion films made up of classic movies and public-domain footage that are meticulously edited by Rich himself to sync up perfectly with his songs. And those visuals form the backdrop to a now-legendary live spectacle that is less a rock concert than a secular big-tent revival, uniting congregations under giant rainbow parachutes and thunderclouds of confetti. At any given Rich Aucoin gig, there’s only one person in the room whose face isn’t frozen in a perma-smile: the poor bastard on staff who’ll eventually have to clean up a post-show scene that resembles a bombed-out party-favor store.
Rich’s sensory-overloading, synapse-bursting shows were initially a natural outgrowth of adapting We’re All Dying to Live’s grandiose studio creations to live setting—a savvy means of distracting you from the fact that Rich was more likely to be performing with just five people rather than 500. For his 2014 follow-up, Ephemeral, Rich deliberately designed the songs to amplify that onstage energy, yielding a bounty of frenetic, electro-pumped motivational anthems powered by mass, call-and-response sing-alongs. But his latest, long-gestating masterwork, Release, was born from a more insular, existential mindset. Pieced together over the course of three years, across five cities in 16 studios with 70-plus collaborators and over a hundred instruments, Release presents Rich’s most musically elaborate, fully realized vision to date—which is saying a helluva lot, given his maximalist track record. If Ephemeral was a ceaseless strobe-light flicker of a record, Release is more a lava lamp—a record of slow-building, surprising mutations that invite more subjective interpretations.
Appropriately enough, Rich’s main inspiration for the record was literature’s ultimate Rorschach test: Alice in Wonderland—in particular, the 1951 film adaptation that Rich has strategically edited to sync up with the album, Dark Side of the Oz-style. On the one hand, Alice in Wonderland is a beloved children’s adventure tale filled with fantastical scenery and colorful characters; on the other, it can be interpreted as a metaphor for death, with Alice’s journey doubling as a trip from the living world into the afterlife. Likewise, the songs on Release are radiant, psychedelic portals into the deepest, darkest corners of our subconscious, forcing us to confront our greatest fears in order to, if not defeat them outright, then at least learn to manage and acclimate ourselves to them.
The first voice we hear on Release doesn’t belong to Rich. Over the percolating electronic beats of “The Base,” we’re greeted by the sampled voice of philosopher Sam Harris: “The past is a memory—it’s a thought arriving in the present. The future is merely anticipated—it is another thought arising now. What we truly have is this moment.” More than just posit a theory on the meaning of life, those words present a challenge—to let go of the ghosts that haunt you, stop worrying about what tomorrow what might bring, and embrace the here and now. Because pretty soon, it’ll be gone.
Space Ballroom (Front Room)
295 Treadwell Street
Hamden, CT, 06514