Show Review: For The Love Of Madness

Story and Photos by Rachel Chiong

A year ago, bands and visual artists were squeezed into the cupboard corners of The Central, this time for the second installment of For the Love of Madness, promoter Cerebral Arts had them strategically split between the basement and ground floor of the Smiling Buddha, but still keeping them fluid with a common theme. In its tongue-in-cheek name ‘For the Love of Madness’, artists worked together to destigmatize mental illness and celebrate being human.

The first of a solid line-up, Spoken Symphonies couldn’t have been a better opener. Seasoned storytellers, narration as smooth as the surface of the moon, bars deep as the craters, the band fused spoken word with feel good melodies. The trio’s sound glowed into a muted orange with a kick of just enough aged-wine class. Bass lines climbed the melody like vines as Aaron Diaz’s piano and Yoshi Aoyama’s falsetto followed them, leaving blossoms at every step. While Nathan de Rushe’s stories breathed into the walls of the Buddha, I distinctly remembered watching the speaker underneath the stage; the cloth inside deflating and expanding like a lung as it swallowed every single word Spoken Symphonies offered.

The windowless Buddha served as a time-capsule, as it darkened outside, inside New Design began to send everyone on a nostalgia trip. Like a rundown roller coaster, they brought us through dips and plateaus, playing post-rock with train track speed and precision. Bass lines resurfaced like memories, rumbling underneath pedal effects like an underground subway. But wave after wave, the breakdowns were almost physically painful, especially when guitarist Joseph Angilletta melted into a vexing visual display, going weak on his knees, guitar almost flying from his grip. The breakdowns intensified, like a teenager on the brink of tears, like digging deeper and deeper into a grave, but no one could deny that it was eyebrow-creasingly good.

At this moment, people needed air and cluttered the College Street’s sidewalk. But Mayraki lost no time reclaiming the stage, and calling back the crowd by beating their music behind the Buddha’s red doors. As veterans from last year’s ‘For the Love of Madness’, they greeted the audience like an old friend, music familiar like slap to the back. Behind the mic, Aloe humored the stragglers at the back, making sure everyone in the room knew that the stage was about to be set on fire. A roaring combination of rap, hip-hop, and funk, they commanded the Buddha, tricking the audience into build up’s which ended in snarky silences. When Rubix and Aloe jumped into the audience, they would wind everyone up, and leave crowd cyclones in their wake. Needless to say Mayraki was responsible for the first mosh pit of the night. But at the end of every song, everyone basked in pure happiness, even people in the back gave themselves away, their smiles white in the darkness as they laughed.

Pretty Odd, a band made up of the most humble and sincere musicians, ended the night. They moved so fluidly, knees heavy with emotion they let their music mold them into shape. Among the psychedelic, blues, and indie sounds, it was hard to contain oneself when Daniel Rengifo, the keyboardist, leaned back to pick up his trumpet, and my corner broke out into excessive fan-girling. Luke Prosser, the lead singer, would fall against his mic, like the strings inside him had broken, leaving you to wonder who gave this band the right to make every note so heart breaking. When the floor light glared beneath them, highlighting only their edges, it became difficult not be infected by their swaying as they enchanted us pass midnight.

The night found itself being stripped down twice, by spoken word artists Tara Farahani and Scribe, who between sets, presented the reality of the conditions of humanity’s mental state through their personal experiences. For the second time, Cerebral Arts went over and above for the art and music community, creating a zine thoroughly exploring the definition and reality of mental illness as well as distributing Demo’s spring print issue. But as the afterglow of the show wears off, it’s the moments we made the most out of that night which will last; like Scribe said, when he tapped my shoulder as the music faded, “I haven’t felt this alive in a long time.”

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