Subs brooded over an empty stage at Village Underground whilst people in the crowd craned up like meerkats expecting to see the man. Whoops and claps from the front broke the tension as among the group of people entering on stage one could make out the unmistakably shaggy outline of William Benjamin Bensussen – better known as The Gaslamp Killer – with a stick of incense ablaze in his mouth.
The band in tow were Drumetrics an L.A. group comprising of Bensussen’s oldest and dearest mates whom he made a point of introducing during the show and sharing some amusing memories. Throughout the performance he interrupted proceedings: dedicating one track to his brother and grandfather, demanding a solo from his drummer, telling us how the English weather inspires “the dopest shit”, and even giving us permission to “sit back and be thankful for being alive” during a dubbed out sequence from the band. He thrived on his interaction with those around him. When the music played his animation and Sideshow Bob hair brought back fond memories of a certain Cedric Bixler-Zavala for a Mars Volta fan.
He was never in the same spot for longer than a moment. He would dance between scratching his turntables, tapping a rattle clap, shaking cymbals, or gesticulating wildly to his music he clearly knew and loved. The crowd were statues in comparison, solely wrapped up in the theatrics. The visual displays engrossed us as much as the music while also depicting the artist’s colourful heritage. Cityscapes changed flippantly between LA nightlights to the circling of the Kaaba in Mecca to computer animations of the Star of David.
By the break we felt we’d been treated to our fair share of entertainment yet had merely scratched the surface. It was time for part two of the Gaslamp Killer experience. As the gig goers hauled themselves away from the bar and the first of the Friday night clubbers filed through the doors, Buttering Trio jilted peoples’ hips into action with their easily likable trip-hop. Vocalist KerenDun skipped between soft notes to the guttural spoken word found in ‘Falafel’. From this jaunty Middle Eastern picnic to a South London warzone, Gaika then stalked on stage to the walk in music of Mumdance & Novelist’s hit single Take Time. He hit the ground running rallying the shell-shocked crowd by standing on the speakers and going hell for leather on his vocals. By his confidence and the way he prowled around on stage, one would never have guessed that he was new to the scene. Finally rounding things off Bensussen returned to close his evening with a DJ set of trademark eclecticism followed by his last guest Kutmah.
The evening was a homage to weird and wonderful beats and although the range of music was worlds apart at time, it was nonetheless in keeping with Bensussen’s character. How could it be a Gaslamp Killer Experience without a bit of dialogue and a few head turns? You could never get too comfortable or know what was coming next but by the end you knew you’d had an extensive trip through what makes this multi-faceted and genre-defying man tick. A great end to our two weeks Convergence binge.