February 9, 2016

ITHACA A-LIVE | Sunday Underground

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Welcome to our new blog: Ithaca A-Live. We’re Ailis Clyne and Olivia Tice, two Cornell Juniors and resident Cayuga Lodgers who love the shows in our basement and around Ithaca so much that we’ve decided to share our experiences with the whole lot of y’all. We’re also into weird facts and little-known tidbits of dinner table knowledge – see the end of this post if you like dogs (or don’t like dogs). Welcome to our musical, factoidal trip: enjoy the show!

Sunday Underground: February 7th

Ailis on BRIAN!, The Jitters and Johnny Dowd:

Super Bowl? Shmooperdole. Four bands played a killer show on Sunday in the dank but atmospheric basement of Cayuga Lodge on Stewart Avenue. The show was organized by Ithaca Underground, and the performers absolutely killed it. The line-up was BRIAN! of Ithaca, The Jitters of Tampa, FL, Johnny Dowd of Ithaca and Powerdove’s front-woman Anna Lewandowski, who some might know as a lecturer in the Music the Department of Cornell.

First up was BRIAN! who gave a nod to the German band that was supposed to be playing, explaining the drummer’s broken wrist. The crowd of local Ithacans did not seem too upset by the change. Pulling many different elements and instruments together (bassoon included!), the band crescendoed from mysteriously soothing compositions to a loud, progressive rock style, showing off their versatility and setting the stage for the next band.

The Jitters, from Tampa, Florida, ran with the energy that BRIAN! began. Shredding through a head-rocking crowd, the pair of musicians completely changed the scene. The crowd went from wall-leaners to a younger, sweatier, livelier bunch. Their compositions were noisy and full of surprises. The guitar riffs repeated and shifted abruptly, leaving the on-lookers dizzy in the best sense of the word. The small two-piece band filled the stage with their energy and stage presence.

If the Jitters were the peak of ebullience and noise, the formative crescendo of the night, then Johnny Dowd was the beginning of the come down – perfectly prepping the crowd for the Powerdove finale. The Jitters were a very accessible band with tons of merch, I couldn’t avoid the temptation to purchase a CD and even ended up with a signature. The female guitarist and vocalist, who really excited me, is apparently a semi-recent addition. The final song they played was what really got me excited to buy their tunes, but unfortunately was not for sale as it will be on their soon to be recorded album. Something to look forward to!

Olivia on Powerdove:

Closing the show, Powerdove’s leading lady, Anna Lewandowski, brought both synth-y experimental vibes and acoustic, folk-leaning vocals. An enthralling performance, her set jumped between angelic ballads and haunting electronic montages, often within the same song. It felt like ending a yoga session (you know, that part where you lay on the ground in corpse pose and relax every muscle in your body from head to toe) only to be brain-shocked by a myriad of glitchy sounds (I mean glitchy in the best way possible). The juxtaposition between Lewandowski’s pure, resonant lyrics and intercuts of experimental electronics brought both, gooey and crunchy vibes to the space, with some show-goers sprawled on the floor while others swayed and bounced in the crowd. Throughout her performance, Lewandowski was clad in a headpiece that can only be described as a flower crown made of headlamps. Moments of deep acoustic crooning in her set gave Lewandowski the look of a haloed angel. Aside from the wicked aesthetic of her get-up, Lewandowski changed the dynamic of the performance. Performers are almost always in the spotlight, but Powerdove’s front woman turned the tables and shone the light on her audience. Masked in the shadows, her already sonorous and mystical performance was taken to another level of mystery. Due to a technical problem, Lewandowski ended up having to close the show with a fully-acoustic track, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. She serenaded the crowd into tranquility. A perfect end to a study-filled sunday! Powerdove had tons of merch for sale including vinyl copies of their last two albums.

(Ithaca Underground has another show lined up for February 19th at the Haunt, and then the following Saturday the 20th at the Chanticleer – both starting at 7pm.)


Now, on to the dogs. My hopes are that our kind-hearted readers didn’t skip to the bottom just to read about pups, but nonetheless, here is today’s factoid (summarized from an article written by Caen Elgans): Ever heard of dog show-breeding? If you haven’t, it’s basically been going on for a few hundred years, but in the past hundred, “best in show”  has taken a turn for the worst. When I think of show dogs I think the top dogs, the cream of the crop in looks and showmanship. But the reality of the situation isn’t so cute or fluffy. All kinds of dogs as we know them today – from pugs to saint bernards – have undergone wild and often unhealthy changes due to show breeding, leaving them deformed, shorter, bigger, scrunch-nosed, etc,. besides causing a myriad of health problems. Even the once majestic and athletic German Shepherd has become a defected breed. This isn’t surprising: humans will be humans, but next time you’re at the ‘ol ASPCA picking out a new furry friend, consider the defects in the term “pure bred.” After all, mutts make the best pals.

(Check out this article for more information.)

Ailis is a junior from New Jersey studying environmental science and sustainability.  If you can’t find her at a pub she’s probably playing guitar in her PJs or writing anything and everything down in tiny notebooks. She can be reached at [email protected].

Olivia is a junior studying film in the college of Arts and Sciences. She was born and raised in the teeny tiny fishing town of Soldotna, Alaska. When she’s not frolicking around outside, she can be found watching cartoons or drinking tea in her catbug onesie. She can be reached at [email protected].