The Dudley Corporation

Zack Adcock

The pain of playing to an attentive but small crowd pales in comparison to being hit by an unmanned runaway car. So maybe this was the better part of their day after all...

The Dudley Corporation

The Dudley Corporation

City: Urbana, Illinois
Venue: The Courtyard Café
Date: 2005-08-25

The Dudley Corporation
It would be wrong to say this was my first experience with the Dudley Corporation, or that I went into this blind. I had heard the band's latest effort, 2003's In Love With The Dudley Corporation and liked it peripherally. Seeing the band live, though, exposed a different side of the Dudley Corporation, one more musically schizoid than I could ever have expected. Their display was akin to fellow Dubliners the Frames, or perhaps even the Delgados. The Dudley Corporation was playing to a near-empty room, but they were no worse for it. I shudder to think what performances like this do to bands too vain to accept that, on certain nights, in certain places, you will be forced to perform to 20 or 30 people. And here's this band, flying all the way to the U.S. from Ireland, kicking off their tour in our college town to a grand total of 26 people -- that's including the sound crew, the venue managers, and one of the opening bands. We, as fans and musicians alike, expect this to happen occasionally, and though it's difficult to not feel awkward as an audience member in such an empty room, the Dudley Corporation still dazzled. The band made us forget our surroundings for a brief time. I was determined that, in light of this band's performance, someone should write a manifesto: "This is How to Play to an Empty Room." In said manifesto, the first rule would be to play your heart out at all costs. It was not the band's more developed songs, those which sound 'tight' or 'together,' that were particularly interesting. Sweat flew, bodies flailed on stage in a way that was almost awkward in the wide open space around us. The band's experiments with quiet and the loud tones were truly stunning. These sonic poles came very close to coexisting at several points throughout this set. The metamorphoses were near-violent as songs shifted from frontman Dudley's unaccompanied whisper to a barrage of flailing guitar noise. In this way, the Dudley Corporation is your typical mixed bag. Just when you think you're getting involved with a band whose pop-punk is so sickly sweet you can't stand it (don't worry, you like it anyway, though you might be ashamed to admit it), gears switch and the band is convulsing into sporadic Sonic Youth-esque walls of distortion. And they do it with such lightning-fast panache you forget it's only three members on stage. Simply put, this band keeps it fresh and its catalog is multi-faceted. If the audience is sparse and quiet, the band's job is to bring the noise. This is another rule in the empty room manifesto. Though the band's three members seemed exhausted and were obviously exerting themselves to a degree that was out of proportion to the size of the crowd, there was never more than one minute of silence between songs. In this way, the songs tended to bleed together; some were even segued into one another, creating patches of sound whose parts identified them as separate, though the playing designated them as a bunch. Maybe it's not so difficult to play to an empty room. Maybe it's more like practice then a room that is half-full. Those in attendance, though, were attentive and appreciative. It was bassist Mark's birthday. The band seemed in good spirits. But of course, the pain of playing to an attentive but small crowd pales in comparison to finding an entire crate of vinyl merch had been water-damaged in the mail. And Dudley was also hit by an unmanned runaway car in a Jewel-Osco parking lot. So maybe this was the better part of their day. Though this show was, as Dudley calls it in his online Gig Diary, a "low key affair," the Dudley Corporation were in good spirits, felt this was exactly what they needed, and perhaps might even come back again some day.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.