Faüxmish, Human Resources, Chinatown, September 2, 2011
Following the epic retirement of the Spirit Girls at Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum almost a year ago, evergreen punk gamine Marnie Weber has moved on to her newest venture—an Amish-themed noise band collaboration with fellow artist musicians Doug Harvey and Dani Tull, stylishly named Faüxmish.
Why an Amish noise band, you might ask? Oh why not, Weber would say. It was something that didn’t yet exist in the world, therefore it needed to come into being. The band’s press release further elucidates: “Faüxmish is a Los Angeles art-rock supergroup that came together over a shared engagement with American spiritual sects who remove themselves from established social norms and create their own culture as outsiders.”
Besides its random, Americana-tinged oddness and defiant outsider stance, my favorite thing about this band is its cool name. As Harvey explained to me, Faüxmish has multiple plays on meaning; it basically means “fake Amish,” but the way it’s pronounced (fah-mish) also makes it sound like the English word “famish” as well as the Yiddish word “farmisht,” which means confused or dysfunctional. The umlaut was added for maximum rock’n’roll effect.
Faüxmish had its debut performance and record release party over the weekend at Human Resources. I missed the first performance of the evening but was able to catch a late-night second set from the trio, played especially for us tardy arrivals.
All three artists got gussied up in fake/embellished Amish outfits for the set, which gave me a really good laugh, but also made me wonder if an Amish person might take offense at this, just as I might have taken offense if they’d dressed in Fu Manchu gear. Hmm, whither the line between high-concept camp and misguided satire? I’m not quite sure, but I have to admit it was hilarious when Harvey and Weber played the theremin with a pitchfork and a spade.
The music, which featured Weber on lead vocals and all three on instruments that included “electric guitars (played with rubber mallets and other extended as well as traditional techniques) and vintage synthesizers, in various combinations of three,” was more experimental and freeform than Spirit Girls was, but also kind of retained that band’s dark, “old, weird America” quality (to borrow a phrase from Greil Marcus). Tull had also been a key member of Spirit Girls.
There was a lot of cool swag for sale at the party, including previous musical releases from all three artists, Weber’s exhibition catalogues, and Faüxmish repurposed t-shirts. The sweetest offering on hand was a wall of 100 limited edition Faüxmish LPs with original album cover art, each one unique and made collaboratively by the three artists. For a mere $60, I couldn’t resist picking up album no. 86, which was duly recorded in a log by Faüxmish’s people.