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Agnes Wired for Sound at Elise's Playground

Saturday evening at Mr. Smalls was a great opportunity for me to explore a world I've been dabbling in coffeehouse-style over the past few years. Running sound for Agnes Wired for Sound let me see the effect a big stage with a large, quality sound system has on a group of dancing folks. It also let me chat with one of their resident sound tech's, who has been a tour manager and sound tech for reputable bands like H.I.M. and reputable venues like CBGB's. As these are both things I'd enjoy doing at some point in my career, it was nice to meet someone who had balanced both and was enjoying the life (and not to the fault of excess, as many others I have met). He was a great help in running a board I had not been previously introduced to, but he handed it over to me at the beginning of the Agnes set - something I have found too few men are willing to do.

Agnes Wired for Sound is a band that has gone through enough changes that we may as well say they are well into young-adulthood. No longer a young band constantly struggling with equipment and lineup issues , no longer an adolescent band reveling in a growing notion of celebrity, no longer a college-aged band indulging beyond their physical capacity: Agnes is now a full-fledged band, ready to stand the test of time to the world they present themselves to.

Some background for newfound Agnes fans: Having gone through an extremely difficult loss of former front-man Ben Bloom at the preparation of their debut album, their future was uncertain for the past few years. Some friends and fans of Mr. Bloom's were hesitant (some even opposed) to supporting AgnesWFS in continuing their musical journey. The band, of course, went through many of these same debates, and knew that regardless of anything else, Ben would have supported their decision to keep the music on. And we, their die-hard fans, are glad they did.

Mike of Opus One Productions, a promoter who seems to be great at assessing risks and still bringing the most interesting shows possible to his audience, asked me where AWFS was making waves. Having worked with an amazing cadre of headlining acts and sideshow performers, I would say they are certainly one of the most talented and hard-working groups in this city. Pittsburgh has also embraced Agnes WFS's new lineup, encouraged their forward-motion, and danced their asses off. HEY AGNES, WE WANT YOUR 2ND ALBUM ALREADY! After that, we want you to tour your asses off to share the exciting and interesting music we in your hometown have grown to expect from you.

If you came to the Smalls show as a fan to dance and sing along, as a musician who's interested in studying the often complex structures, or a reviewer looking for the next hot thing, you got what you wanted. With all due respect to the touring acts, Agnes stole the show.

However, we can't ignore the magnetic appeal of the Elise's Playground fetish performance. Another fantastic show from the ladies-and-gents of EP. Ms. Elizabeth Couteau was the archangel of the evening: she performed a burlesque dance during Agnes WFS's cover of Concrete Blonde's "Bloodletting", acted as head Dom during the Hansel and Gretel themed performance, and choreographed the set. An amazing performer with a stage (or, in this case, floor) presence, I can't say I've ever met a woman who could make getting beaten up look so appealing. Her co-conspirators were likewise excellent for the parts, and I might even say I was a bit jealous ;0) I mostly enjoyed the intimate, "hey this is for real" nature of the performance on the floor, though it is hard to keep everyone in the audience happy when they can't see every spank.

The whole evening is a fun chance for big kids to play dress up - Big Kid style. Like, "hey, I like you, and I would enjoy leading you around by a leash all night. Cool?" However, even my bandmates made it down, and I'm assuming they've never been to anything like this. But they seemed to enjoy themselves quite a bit! EP provides a fun, relaxed, entertaining, and non-threatening environment(unless you're being chased by a 24" sticky dildo... but what can I say, I get myself into these situations...)

It always pays to be present at any Elise's Playground or Agnes WFS show. While my video of the evening didn't turn out so well, check out this video I took at an Agnes show back in April (?), featuring a totally impromptu performance from many dancing ladies, including Melissa of Ishtar, Ms. Couteau, and yours truly (I can't be let out of the house... Just discovered this photo on the internet while looking for good pix of EP.. hahaha!).

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