Ryan Christopher Coleman
On the last Friday in March, an eclectic group of artists, musicians, and comedians convened at one of Pasadena’s tried and true watering holes, the Old Towne Pub.
“It’s a bunch of freaks, basically,” says Jeremy Fawrup, the man behind dark electronic act Bimsha Swang, as well as the organizer of the night’s festivities. He looks satisfied, mingling with the overflow of attendees that have spilled out onto the patio. He flashes me a wicked smirk and adds, “I love them.”
It’s been months, “maybe upwards of a year,” Fawrup tells me he has been conceiving of Black Volume. The concept took several forms before it settled on a monthly bazaar of art and entertainment. For its inaugural show, Black Volume delivered comedy, rap, experimental rock, jazz, live painting, jewelry making, an array of local clothiers, and more.
What helped the rubber of Fawrup’s idea meet the road was Steven Rodela, the independent booker known as Vert Ventures. Rodela recalls the challenges he used to face when he played in a local band. It can be difficult for unrepresented acts to advocate for themselves in nightlife spaces, in particular regard to issues like payment. Vert Ventures was born out of a desire to foster a more supportive and dynamic local music scene.
“It’s less of a show, more of a showcase,” says artist Julia Lynch, the first face you met stepping from the bar to the bustling patio. She’s vending an assortment of her lush ink and watercolor portraits alongside Michael Weinstock of Designs From Chaos, who makes precise, mandala-like ink designs as well as jewelry. Down the line are Nancy Crowd from Silent Crowd Clothing, an urban activewear line fully designed, managed, and marketed by Crowd herself and LiqudBrain, a “low-brow pop surrealist” working on a live latex painting.
Kicking off the night were Pasadena-based duo KrOniC, with a crowd-pleasing fusion of rap, soul, and electronic elements. Following KrOniC were art-rock band POM, DJ and house music producer D’Auria, and finally a thrashing electronic set by Bimsha Swang, all interspersed with short comedy sets.
Talking to the artists and musicians invited to Black Volume, you start to notice a pattern. For both the boys from KrOniC, to the designer behind GoodXDreams clothing, to Lynch and Weinstock, while making art may not be a new process, being invited to promote and perform their art certainly is.
“Music is my outlet,” D’Auria tells me, mentally preparing for his set amongst his friends, who happen to be 3/4 of the other artists. “I started making music when I got clean.” D’Auria’s been at it under wraps for years, but Black Volume is his first show. I ask him how he’s feeling, and as he surveys the enthusiastic crowd of artists being given a long-awaited platform, responds, “I hope there’s going to be more Black Volume.”