Sensory Overload: June66

By Columbus Alive
From the October 11, 2012 edition

Don’t go to a June66 show to be impressed, but maybe to be entertained. Monday’s gig at The Summit was a fascinating trainwreck.

The new Columbus trio’s studio work is sublime. It sets June66 apart in this city. Nobody else is making “doo wop/psych/dub” that sounds like Jens Lekman circling the drain of a surrealist toilet bowl. You’ll find yourself floating by the time Kry Baby Jepherson croons, “All that I want to do/ Get faded every day/ These feelings can wait.”

It’s music as art project, but not at the expense of enjoyment. They experiment without losing sight of pop appeal. It’s seriously great stuff. Go listen to it. Just don’t let it get your expectations up for the live show.

The entertainment value of a June66 performance is different from the recorded experience. Think “bad movie night.” There’s no way to genuinely appreciate what transpired Monday, save for rare glimpses of beauty that sprung up briefly before bleeding back into the ether: the My Bloody Valentine noise-pop freakout they tacked on near the end, or the gnarly beat construction that came before it, or the dead-eyed refrain, “Your boyfriend's pretty dumb/ You are pretty dumb.”

The setup involves three work stations, Jepherson and his array of machinery flanked by backup singers/musicians named Rikki Kryste and Kissy Kate. Rikki dabbles on an MPC and a synthesizer, while Kissy occasionally mans an electric violin.

These sounds converged in screeching, billowing static, rarely coherent for more than a few seconds before disintegrating by accident or design. They tried aggressive sound collage a la Xiu Xiu and sprayed Bomb Squad blasts over splayed doo wop. Something like those awesome studio tracks was buried in there somewhere.

Jepherson’s sidekicks held it down, but he was a mess. Though that winning Lekman impression materialized a few times, he seemed more interested in obnoxious wailing, false starts and non-sequiturs like, “I can’t believe I’m doing this without shades,” and, “You guys wanna take shots?” and, “OK, I’m just trying not to get disoriented.” It may have been some Andy Kaufman joke-is-on-you business, but it felt more like “Emperor’s New Clothes” from a band that has much more to offer.