MUSK at The Midway (7.3.08)

Posted on July 28, 2008


WHAT’S THAT SMELL? – MUSK Turns 3 At the Midway

“I’m not the official door guy or anything, I’m just the DJ’s boyfriend.”

Inside, among the rickety stacks of speakers, wobbly ceiling fans, and strings of Christmas lights, a small crowd packs into the dark, remote Midway Café like distant cousins at Grandma’s third wedding. Australian indie-rock godfathers the Cannanes have popped in, and they toss off playful jabs at old friends R.E.M., to the gaggle of jeans-and-shirt-tucking fans in the house rubbing shoulders with the usual Musk crowd of unclassifiables (dreads, Brazil soccer jerseys, and short shorts — check) on the dance night’s third birthday a week ago Wednesday. The Cannanes rhyme “Australia” with “failure” a few times in a song, with great success. A neglected FotoFind console looks a little lonely.

There are booty-dancing cuts from the ’80s, white girls hitting body-lock poses, and a sign slung on the taps that reads “$2.50 Cans of Mystery Beer.” Musk founder and de facto Plunge into Death honcho Dave Geissler (who used to blast Captain Beefheart while on duty at Hi-Fi Records) presides over turntables and humbly shrugs off congratulatory hugs from well-wishers. (“Ouch . . . my back . . . totally sore,” he winces, fresh off a solo bike tour of Europe.)

A swerving conversation at one end of the bar about the existence of hippie communes in Ohio ends inconclusively as Plunge into Death’s Jesse Hubbell emerges from the basement in a pink blouse and skin-tight, stone-washed Jordaches and parts the crowd like a dinky Red Sea. The CD-R backing tracks start, and Plunge’s cheeky Miami sex-bass operatics take over while Geissler’s disco Steven Seagal moves stir up a campy and vaguely creepy environment in which to get winks from strangers (first-hand observation). The set is done in 20 minutes, and the room flips into basement-dance-party mode.

Even though the Cannanes have taken off in their mini-van, a faithful few remain spinning around the room to Devo’s “Gates of Steel,” and locals are still stumbling in through the door. It’s 1:15, and someone remembers the anniversary cake hidden under the bar.