Review of Sophia Run at Alchemy
CBGB Gallery 313 Bowery, NYC, NY on 29 January 2001 at 11pm
This wasn't to be the first time I saw this band which bills itself as "intimate acoustic darkwave". No, the first time was several years earlier in the basement of a tattoo poller on Canal Street. It was with both surprise and delight that I found a postcard in the mail informing me that they were to be playing again in celebration of Denny's birthday. Having met Denny the last time around, I recalled him as an extremely friendly and somewhat humourous man whose charisma is as well shared while on stage as off.
I arrived at the Gallery a tad bit early as I had nowhere better to be and it was a cold day in New York; long gone is the time when St. Marks' and Avenue A were littered with such interesting and friendly people that I would spend ungodly amounts of time just lurking the streets, being social. I was somewhat surprised to see how alone I was not since the tables at the cafe were quite packed. Despite enjoying Sophia Run, I didn't expect them to have such a large audience waiting for them nearly an hour an a half early. But my surprise was deepened when better than half that potential audience left the Gallery before the band went on; I guess they were just there to escape the cold and knew nothing of the show they were to miss.
I am seated in the far corner, perhaps somewhat obscured by the shadows (perhaps not) as I watch the band set up. They joke with us that they are a band called "Sound Check" and a band "To Be Announced" will be on later. They play some charming song by some other artist (whose name I can't recall) and comment "I'll bet [insert name] never thought of that as a sound check song." Sound check over, the band disappears to do whatever it is bands do when they aren't ready to go up yet and don't have a green room (I guess that means sit at the bar, but I didn't go spying on them).
Sometime before Sophia Run begins its set, Denny makes an appearance to set some beautiful carpets on the floor. Although I vaguely remembered them having done this the last time around, my first reaction was to think "That's not very condusive to dancing" but then neither is the Gallery not having a cabaret license, so the issue was to be a mute point.
Finally, perhaps it was around 11pm, but it was dark and my watch didn't have a light, and I wasn't really thinking to care about it, the band went up. How do I describe their music? "'Gothic' except not in any cliche sense of the word" is how I had billed them earlier to friends, an ambiguous statement I would not attempt to revise though perhaps to expand upon. The band consisted of three members (the other two whose names I must apologize for forgetting) and at some point Denny took a break in the music to introduce us to them and to his father (who he called "Abba" and was sitting amongst the audience). Denny was the vocalist. The second man was a bass player (who had apparently left the band to work with another band whose name was also forgotten, but was back for this evening). The third switched between some African (or perhaps Native American?) drums and a violin (which he played most eloquently).
After a most entrancing and too short set (perhaps an hour), a couple women in the audience came forth with birthday cakes. One was a sponge cake with choclate icing; the other a choclate cake. There was more than enough cake to go around and after four pieces of sponge cake I had no room to try the choclate cake which unfortunately they decided to serve second since I would have prefered to eat that one, but hadn't the patience. The sponge cake at least was excellent, as I am sure the other cake also would have been. I've heard a rumor that Alchemy most often serves cakes, but I've only been there four times and this is the first time that I knew of any; but one can not be a witness against what one has not seen.
After the set and the cake, I personally wished Denny a happy birthday and found him to be as personable as I remembered. After chatting with him for awhile I then enjoyed the rest of the night at Alchemy until well into the next morning.
(For the record, Alchemy lacks a cabaret license so the scene is more focused on socializing than dancing and the people here seem a lot friendlier and less cliquish than the populations of other goth clubs I have been to. It's ashame about the dancing, but otherwise it is quite a good night out and I well recommend it.)
This page was prepared by Brian Matthew Kessler of Nowhere@All