There’s a Dr in the House
This past weekend marked the return of Allen Aucoin, a.k.a. DrFameus, to the New York City stage after a three-year hiatus. Playing random shows under the DrFameus moniker over the past several years, Allen is best known as the drummer for jamtronica outfit the Disco Biscuits. However, with the Disco Biscuits’ lack of shows in recent months, Aucoin has been free to revive his solo project on a more full-time basis, including composing several original tracks for the live show and going on a mini tour this winter with Disco Biscuits band mates Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner’s side project, Conspirator. Travelling through a wide variety of genres, from funk to drum and bass to jungle, the project features Aucoin at his best: behind the kit. Part of his set-up as DrFameus also includes utilizing a computer to play tracks to drum over, with plenty of the tight improvisation we have come to expect from him. Needless to say, the concept behind DrFameus coupled with impressive musicianship makes every show a unique dance party that you want to be a part of.
This particular Saturday night at Sullivan Hall kicked off with Brooklyn-based jamtronica act, MUN. After making theirway through several guitarists over the past year, they really seem to have found their groove with new addition Wiley Griffin. One of the more impressive sets I have seen from MUN, usually a late night staple of the livetronica scene, the band definitely kicked the night off properly. Mostly sticking to a darker electronic sound, MUN scattered elements of genres ranging from metal to funk to get the crowd rowdy during a surprisingly cohesive set considering the recent line-up change. From what I hear, they really kept the rage going at the show’s after party as well.
Next up was the doctor himself. For this long-time Disco Biscuits fan and first time attendee of Allen’s solo project, I was definitely stoked to get my Allen fix and check out what he had been doing musically in his free time. The first set was a nice warm-up and introduction to the DrFameus concept; the tracks he dropped were fun and dance-y and watching Aucoinplay the drums is always a pleasure. While I was a little surprised at how safely he was playing (and not laying down the chaos I was hoping for), it all made sense when he was joined on stage after a short while by a few of his friends, none of whom I was previously familiar with but all of whom proved themselves talented enough to share the stage with our main attraction. Accompanied by a man on guitar, one on keys, and another on computers and turntables for sampling purposes, the doctor quickly switched up his first set from the one-man show I was expecting into a full on jam session with a myriad of sounds that, at the very least, was an interesting turn of events.
After the first set’s conclusion, the stage was taken over by drummer/keys duo BangBang in their third performance ever. Featuring Todd Stoops, of RAQ and Kung Fu fame, on the keys and Scotty Zwang, of Sonic Spank, on drums, Bang Bang is an improvisational force to be reckoned with. Zwang, who has had the pleasure of sitting in with Aucoin’s other band mates in Conspirator in the past, never ceases to remind you why he is one of the foremost up-and-coming drummers on the scene. Joined by Stoops, a show-stopping madman on the keysboth sonically and visually, Bang Bang threw down a psychedelic and hard-hitting set that made me upset I missed their debut at The Big Up festival this past summer, while simultaneously keeping my hopes up that these two will occasionally take some time out from their primary projects to have as much fun playing together as I had watching them.
Concluding the night was the second set from DrFameus. Blatantly superior to the first set, Allen was joined on stage from the start by his trio of companions, who he seemed to have really figured out musically during the set break. They came out swinging as a single unit, with significantly improved fluidity and explosiveness compared to the previous set. Allen himself kicked it up a notch, getting more technically impressive as the set progressed and dropping more of those quick fills, for which he is so well known, that one could miss with the blink of an eye. About halfway through this set, the guitarist and keyboard player ventured back into the crowd, leaving Allen and his friend on the computer alone on the stage. While the departed duo certainly added some flavor and were far from unimpressive, it was at this point that Dr. Fameus really turned up the heat. Dropping some serious funk, a bit of dubstep, and crunchy bass in general, the doctor went off on an absolute tear for the last half hour of the show in the style I had anticipated and know he is capable of.
All in all, I would consider this past Saturday night at Sullivan Hall a success. A rockin’ opener, two impressive and creative sets from the headliner, and a heavily psychedelic set break kept the packed room moving all night and it wasn’t hard to understand why everyone there was in such high spirits. Any fans of electronic dance music are sure to have a blast at a DrFameus show and I highly recommend attendance if given the opportunity. Be sure to look out for the doctor tearing it up at Best Buy Theatre in New York City next week with his usual band, the Disco Biscuits, and on tour this winter supporting fellow livetronica act and friends, Conspirator.
Photography and Video By: Greg Sarafan