The cigarette smoke in a local art gallery basement is thick, and the sounds of orca noises play over the PA system. It’s ten minutes before the first show of the recently reunited band Bänd, a german technocrat-pop group who has been playing underground shows on and off since 1946. Forming seemingly spontaneously on the scene, the band quickly gained a cult-like following amongst the local outsiders. This reunion tour, their fourth, is based around a performance art piece which sees the band pull out Motorola RAZRs and take obnoxious flash photography of the audience, for a duration of time that can range from 10-45 minutes. This piece of social commentary is the culmination of years of complaints from touring musicians about the distraction caused by devices such as cell phones and tablets.
The band is comprised of four aspiring young lads. The frontman a peculiar man born Kreuzberg Bdolf, recently legally changed his name to just ‘Mozart’. When asked about the name change, Mozart said, “I was going to call myself Wagner, but my handwriting is really bad and I guess they thought it said ‘Mozart’”. The other three prefer to be publically referred to as “The Trash Brothers” and will often play entire tour dates without removing plastic bags from local co-op organic grocery stores from their faces. No public information exists about these three men, and rumours have circulated over the past few years which claim that they are actually just second-cousins.
As the band took the stage, the audience, comprised mainly of counterculture youth ironically still wearing Uggs, began to crowd around and pull out their phones. To their surprise, the band did the same. The audience recoiled in horror as they suddenly realized that their desire to capture a moment in time actually removed them from the experience entirely. Their faces turned pale as they realized that by filming the show, the artists are deprived of humanity and distilled into pure faceless entertainment for the ignorant audience. Or was it just because of the bright camera flash? A bin was passed around the crowd, which offered a pre-rolled joint in exchange for permanent possession of your cell phone, and most were tossed in.
After the show, the phones were collected and the band texted everyone’s moms asking to grab some shwarma. After a quick ‘encore’ in the band’s Mercedes minivan and a pitstop at a local pawn shop to sell everyone’s phones for $5 a pop, the band is ready to move on to the next city. More phones to steal under the guise of performance art, more money to be made from unsuspecting pawn shops. The heist continues, which the band brushes off, “Trust me, we’ve committed much worse atrocities than this, believe me brother”.
The tour will continue on to Clark Hall Pub on Tuesday, then make stops in Guelph, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with opening punk ravers American History seX.