Pleasure Void will celebrate the release of its new album, a five-song EP, with a show on November 20 at Blind Lemon (11729 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood). Cincinnati's Fairmount Girls and Cleveland's Secret Servix will open the concert. Pleasure Void (no relation to Pleasure Zone, the cheesy soft-porn flick Cinemax shows every Friday night) originally formed several years ago in Virginia, but the current lineup of the band didn't start to come together until last January, when bassist Poindexter joined keyboardist Nero, drummer Bonnie, and guitarist Brent, whose bass player at the time was in jail on a traffic violation. Singer Lo, a practicing Dominatrix, joined in March and has brought something unique to the punk- and Goth-oriented band.
"[Lo] does role playing in her professional life, and when we get onstage, we have no idea what to expect," Poindexter explains. "I've never seen her look the same twice, and it's always something outstanding. She really is a personality. I see a lot of bands where a lot of singers fit a mold. If, for whatever reason, she died or left the band, we really could not replace her."
While songs such as "Prisoner of Pleasure" and "History" have a dark, Bauhaus-like ambiance, the band's music doesn't entirely fit into the Goth category -- the uptempo "Breakend" is more pop-punk. Lo, who sounds like a cross between Shirley Manson, Patti Smith, and Poly Styrene, could broaden her palette a bit -- she writes almost exclusively about obsessive love -- but her strong voice has undoubtedly helped the band get gigs opening for national acts such as GWAR, the Mekons, and, most recently, the indie pop outfit Frogpond when they've rolled through Cleveland.
"I thought we meshed better with [Frogpond] than Rosavelt," Poindexter says. "Musically, we sound like Pere Ubu, Devo, and the Residents, but we're very versatile."
In addition, the band hopes to have local DJs do some remixes of the songs and eventually release them on a second pressing of the album. Varian Allen, a local promoter and DJ (he was behind the Crystal Method show that took place at Nautica over the summer), is already slated to do at least some of the remix work. The group will also play at the Phantasy (11802 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood) on November 26.
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Los Angeles-based DJ John Kelley was enrolled as a pre-med student at UCLA when he discovered there was life beyond anatomy class.
"I was a raver on the weekends, basically," Kelley says via cell phone as he's driving in L.A. "I would go to parties and dance all night. I just kind of got into it as a hobby. I never intended to be a DJ as a career. The whole thing just kind of took off and pulled me along with it."
It wasn't long before Kelley was helping Full Moon Gatherings organize raves in the Mojave desert. In the mid-'90s, these events, which were strictly word-of-mouth affairs, became almost legendary in Southern California (they have since tapered off).
"The big thing for me was that it was all about being free and getting outside of the city -- especially in a place like L.A., where you always have your guard up," Kelley says about the desert events, which would regularly draw crowds of a couple thousand. "You could just be yourself. You could do whatever you wanted -- dance all night under the stars in some flat lakebed, listening to house and techno and breakbeat stuff. The whole thing was very free and spontaneous as well. There were no fliers or voicemail. We just went out when the moon was full and set a sound system up. It was a fun, free vibe."
Like most DJs, Kelley started out by making mix tapes. He was eventually signed to Moonshine Records, which has released all four of his more "official" mix CDs, including his latest album, High Desert Sound System, on which Kelley blends house tracks by DJs like Joe Santos, Dave Randall, and DJ Dan into a pulsating mix that steadily escalates.
"It's harder to make a mix CD than people think, because you don't have your full record crate to work with," he explains. "It's not like every record mixes well with the other one. You want to take people on a rhythmic journey and combine rhythms to go someplace. In the case of my CD, it definitely goes up and peaks out and settles back down a little bit."
Kelley, who has DJ gigs in Orlando, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Seattle the same week of an upcoming appearance in Cleveland, admits he's at least a little bit nostalgic for the days when he was making mix tapes and didn't have to deal with licensing rights and other legal matters.
"The nice thing about mix tapes is that you don't need to clear the tracks," he says. "Not that I do them anymore, but when I did the mix tapes, I would always credit the artists. I was mostly giving the tapes away back then anyway."
One of the most widely recognized DJs in America, Kelley, who played on last summer's Community Service tour with the Crystal Method, Orbital, and the Lo Fidelity Allstars, doesn't have to give away his product anymore. He'll be spinning on November 19 at a rave called Reflections. Other DJs scheduled to appear include Christopher Lawrence, Dr. Trance, Spoon + Aisilym, Nauti Groove, Ceruleon, and Cleveland's Deepblue. Tickets are $18 presale, $22 if you come with a canned good, and $25 if you come empty-handed. For directions, call 216-556-5564.
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Unsigned bands looking to get their music on the web will now have one more outlet. Starting November 18 (the date is tentative), CDNow will be offering a way for groups to sell their music over the Internet for free. In addition to providing music downloads, the new site will provide access to bios, photos, tour dates, and articles. Bands can go to cosmic.cd.now to register. -- Jeff Niesel
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