On a muggy but bearable Wednesday evening, the sun set sharply through the windows of The Bridge, and the music started.
After the framed photos of Nubar Alexanian’s recreated Abu Ghraib were removed from the walls, the fairly fledgling local act Myceum—consisting of Scott Ritchie, a crickity keyboard and an orchestra of pedals—flooded the room with gurgling drones. Atop his sea of pulsing sound floated a recorded recitation of the myth of Jason and the Argonauts. It slithered from a tape player that was part of Ritchie’s setup, surfacing and diving through the morphing sounds like a sonic serpent, and the small but enthusiastic crowd was picked up by the current and intertwined in the flowing sound.
Portland, Oregon’s absurdly named duo Dickhearse: A Discourse on Dick Horse began with one member writhing and trapped amid a mess of metal frames and wires like a fiendish Ebenezer Scrooge while his cohort stood over him in a sagging white jumpsuit, a cross between the Ghost of Christmas Past and the Grim Reaper. The pair soon shed their shackles but maintained the same eerie aura as they conjured frightening tones from guitar and drums via pedals and cymbals amplified with contact microphones. The rest was a mind-wrenching mess of soaring decibels, collapsed drum patterns and the guitarist’s long, stringy, flailing hair.
After those bursts waned and the lights dimmed, the Reaper assumed the moniker Yellow Crystal Star. This set shined brightest, as though it were sonically born from the singular focus of Myceum and the dynamic energy of Dickhearse. His guitar was like a sickle, cutting out sonic layers, stacking them up and finally slicing the scene to pieces in a cathartic wrestling match with his strings and frets.
The Bridge plans to host shows more frequently, and if this noisy, far-out night is any indicator, those with a taste for the eccentric and boundary-busting will find it to their liking. If the stars align, the space could combine the best aspects of deceased Charlottesville spots like the Pudhouse, Atomic Burrito and the Tokyo Rose. Attendance was small for this midweek event, but there were some young faces in the audience, a promising sign for the future. If The Bridge can build a consistent and interesting musical schedule, as with its film and art events, then we have much to look forward to. As a voice once told Kevin Costner: If you build it, they will come.