By STEVEN YARDLEY
Java is a conversation paver. A large majority of SLU students share the common ground of a Java show experience. Personal history with the barn is often hilarious. Everyone has their own individual interpretation of the musical mecca. Most shows are largely interpretative, I mean just look at the walls!
The venue looks like a living organism with psychedelic ribosomes and vibrant DNA strands. Mirror shards are randomly glued everywhere. Blue blobs are bulbously painted. Strange creatures float on the walls: blue sea monkeys, jellyfish, and a green pigeon with red boobs. One floating eyeball with red pupils watches you wherever you go, wherever you boogie. Making sense of the Java walls reminds me of childhood where I would gaze at clouds and convince my friends there were lions in the sky. Scarlet strobe lights glaze the walls during musical zeniths. Lovers push up against the walls smooching away the midnight. People looking for a birds-eye view sit on top of the polka dot piano, and lean against the walls eating cookies and chips from the FREE snack bar. LED hula hoops linger against the walls with a massive pile of winter coats. The Java walls have seen it all.
Spring semester kicked off with a musical apex. Gang of Thieves debuted for the 1st time with contagious energy. The audience was left begging for encores and the last remnants of tortilla chips. “10 more songs!” they chanted at 2 A.M. It soon escalated to “100 more songs, 1 billion more songs, stay here forever, we want more songs!” There most infamous covers were Sublimes “What I got” blended in with a glimpse of Dr. Dre’s “No Diggity.” They also seamlessly stitched 6 Led Zeppelin songs together before ripping the Beatles classic, “Come Together.”
Gang of Thieves had some powerful aesthetic choices. They had a drum solo call and response with the audience. The drummer laid down a drumline, and the audience clapped it back, surprisingly coherently. The band proceeded to get lower than Lil’ Jon. As did the audience. Everyone was cuddled close to the dance floor before the massive upsurge of energy that made them jump joyously. The band literally was on the floor strumming away their guitar, and an electric violin that was crafted into a wooden skull. The band interacted positively with the audience for the entire show, and even had Ryan Daniels 16’ freestyle rap for 4 minutes on stage without practicing once. It was brilliant rapping. Everyone who witnessed Gang Of Thieves at Java left with their jaws dropped, necks sore, and hips twisted.
It was raw energy. The shaggy blonde haired guitarist butted heads with the other lead guitarist like a fighting elk with tangled antlers. They duked it out on guitars by trading off solos. The drummer authorized intensity shifts from hard rock n’ roll to the mellowest of music. Seeing their togetherness and camaraderie on stage was uplifting after a painstaking weekdays of working. When I am inside the abstract walls of Java, I feed off the catharsis bands experience on stage and I think the audience does too.