Tonight’s third annual Kalamashoegazer festival, organized by local dreampop icons glowfriends, confirms that a rock style long thought to be out of style is enjoying a healthy afterlife. Anyone unfamiliar with shoegazer music (named after shoegaze guitarists’ tendency to keep their eyes focused on their effects pedals) can initiate themselves with any of the glowfriends’ ethereal CD selections available for loan at KPL.
The uninitiated can also go straight to the groundbreaking 1991 release by shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine, Loveless, to hear what’s generally regarded as the shoegaze masterpiece. Lush vocal harmonies float above a wash of searing guitars, distorted at an incredibly high volume, pitches bending wildly. However strange the mix sounds, the end result is, to my ears, quite beautiful - despite the overwhelming effect of the wall of guitars, melody is not sacrificed.
Live, MBV has been known to play so loudly that some audience members have claimed permanent hearing damage (earplugs are routinely offered for free at their gigs). It’s doubtful any of the bands playing Kalamashoegazer 3 will generate such dangerous volume levels, but it’s likely that the rush of sound will still awe those in attendance, and make shoegaze believers out of newcomers.