Power Animal Systems at Launchpad’s ‘Strange birds’

Strange sounds: Animal-human hybrids perform at experimental music night

for The Brooklyn Paper
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This birdsong may sound a bit bizarre, but don’t let that turn you off.

On Jan. 31, Crown Heights arts space LaunchPad will host “Strange Birds,” an evening of experimental music and art. The organizers created the event to combat the popular idea that experimental music is inaccessible, confusing, or just plain bad. In fact, it can be really fun, they said.

“Experimental music will go mainstream when people start to realize that just having fun and playing around with whatever you find in your house has just as much artistic merit as a piece of sheet music composed by someone with years of musical training, if not more,” said Zane Van Dusen, LaunchPad’s director of operations. “People are going to have a lot of fun then go home and think, ‘Wow — I just saw some really weird stuff and loved it. I should see more!’”

One of the acts bringing both fun and weirdness in equal measure will be performance ensemble Power Animal Systems. The group, created by visual artist and musician Jason Martin, is a multimedia mixture of music, video installation, and live performers dressed as “animal-human hybrid creatures” — such as wolves and poodles sporting sparkly, space-age spandex costumes.

“Jason Martin is one of the most wonderful weirdos I ever met and I was instantly drawn to his work,” said Van Dusen. “At the time, he was most known for a band called Evolution Revolution that would throw huge parties featuring animal costumes and costumed wrestling. Then the band would go on and everyone would dance like they really didn’t care who was watching and have a great time.”

Confirming Van Dusen’s notion that experimental art is edging closer to the mainstream, Power Animals Systems was tapped to open for Lady Gaga on her “Born This Way Ball” tour last year — though the shows were cancelled when the pop star injured her hip.

Other left-of-center groups on the bill include 86 Supreme, which fuses jazz, funk, hip-hop, pop, and rock into one beguiling musical mix, and Zographia, which combines violin and drums with painting.

The organizers of “Strange Birds” hope the night will open the audience’s minds to new sounds and ideas.

“If a bunch of people are doing the same thing, it’s not pushing the boundaries anymore,” said LaunchPad’s house manager Juliana Schley. “My favorite thing about experimental art is that it’s generally open for interpretation, and I believe the most successful art gives the viewer a reflection of him or herself.”

“Strange Birds: An Evening of Weird But Fun Music, Performance and Art” at LaunchPad [721 Franklin Ave. between Sterling and Park places in Crown Heights, (646) 494–7211,]. Jan. 31 at 8 pm. $5 suggested donation.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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