Random kid, random gig: tiresome techno at the McCormally-Ward concert

Harper Dunn and Anya Herzberg

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We walked into the backyard of the Rhizome, a run-down, modest house in Takoma. Lights were hung across the yard and people sat around a campfire listening to an odd type of music. We looked to the front and see two middle-aged men, Sam McCormally and Will McKindley-Ward, bobbing their heads to the music they were creating. McKindley-Ward sat at a keyboard, controlling a MacBook Pro computer with a microphone, and Sam McCormally occasionally strummed a bass guitar. We were surrounded by about 25 people talking and chatting, with a number of little kids also running around.

The duo first came together in 2008 when both played in an indie-folk band called ‘Ugly Purple Sweater’, and since then have frequently changed their music styles to experimental rock and electronic. Now, the music they have created greatly differs from what they had done before.

Listening to their “music”—a mixture of electronic sounds including beeps, screeches, and buzzes—was an experience we will never forget. While there were no words in their songs, the beat always varied, bringing out different emotions. Sometimes sharp and sometimes subtle, the tunes seemed improvised and spontaneous. It wasn’t what we had expected, as we had anticipated a chill light festival with multiple performers, but the other performers never showed up. There was always a smooth, soothing tone in the background of the varying beats that unified the sounds into a song.

Overall, we wouldn’t give them very high of a rating. We found McCormally and McKindley-Ward’s music to be a little underwhelming and not very sophisticated. We could tell McKindley-Ward was paying a lot of attention to controlling the technicalities through a digital audio computer application, and not as much to the actual music he and his partner were performing. The music could be improved significantly if the duo had a third member devoted solely to working the technological elements. We found the environment slightly sketchy, as our tickets were never checked, there was no formal stage or performing area, and the setup seemed more like a communal gathering than a concert, despite what rhizomedc.org described. Since we are not electronic music enthusiasts and weren’t particularly fans of the band, we do not believe the random, casual beats created by the two musicians were worth the $10 ticket.