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    Alvarius B at Resident

    'Well, I'm smokin' to live.' Alvarius B performs at Resident in Los Angeles, California on May 6, 2018.
    “Well, I’m smokin’ to live.” Alvarius B performs at Resident in Los Angeles, California on May 6, 2018.

    Los Angeles, California
    May 6, 2018

    Alvarius B is one of the alter egos of Alan Bishop, who is best known as one third of the legendary third eye staring band the Sun City Girls, who existed from 1981-2007. In more recent years, AB has led two outfits based in Cairo, Egypt: the rock band The Invisible Hands and The Dwarfs of East Agouza, who play highly improvised music. As a solo performer, Alan occasionally appears as the aforementioned songsmith Alvarius B or, much less frequently, the cantankerous spoken word artist, Uncle Jim. He is also one of the founders of the Sublime Frequencies label, who release raw music mainly from Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

    Considering the fact that I have the loudest tinnitus in the whole universe, I rarely ever go to shows anymore. But I had to make an exception for Alvarius B at Resident up in the Arts District just south of downtown LA. I had only seen him solo once before back in 2013. Right when the front doors opened, I walked in and—boom!—there was Alvarius B manning the merch table. He was there to do a meet-and-greet with anyone who could prove that they had, within the past eight hours, endured open heart surgery performed on the Goodyear blimp by a midget captain of a tugboat who was busy wearing Ugg boots filled with maple syrup sourced from a petrified forest in Siberia.

    A flyer for the Alvarius B show at Resident in Los Angeles, California on May 6, 2018.
    A flyer for the Alvarius B show at Resident in Los Angeles, California on May 6, 2018.

    I seized the opportunity to grill Mr. B about what he’d been up to lately. Seems he has a new wife and baby, and recently moved from Seattle down to Tucson. (He grew up in Michigan in the ‘60s and ‘70s and lived in Phoenix in the ‘80s, followed by a move to Seattle in the early-‘90s. Since 2011, he also lives in Cairo, Egypt for part of the year.) One bit of exciting news Mr. B imparted to me is that he found the master tapes for all of the Sun City Girls’ Cloaven cassettes, which were originally released in the ‘80s, and plans to reissue the rest of them on vinyl. (The Eclipse label reissued the first batch several years back.) He also hopes to reissue all of the Carnival Folklore Resurrection CD series on vinyl, as well! Yee-ha!

    'Your Uncle Jim's just about had it with you people.' Alvarius B performs at Resident in Los Angeles, California on May 6, 2018.
    “Your Uncle Jim’s just about had it with you people.” Alvarius B performs at Resident in Los Angeles, California on May 6, 2018.

    As for the merch table itself, I already had every record on it, as usual, except for one—sort of. It was Alvarius B’s first solo LP, which I already had on CD. But, AB sold it to me for only $20, which seemed very reasonable. I was so stoked because I had always wanted it on vinyl. I was also a super happy camper that I finally got to talk to him after all these years. After a couple of opening acts, which included a band called the Supreme Dicks and a little spoken word from Erik Davis, Alvarius B himself clambered up onstage with his acoustic guitar and a thck songbook in tow.

    He played Bob Dylan’s “Wanted Man” but replaced the original lyrics with much better updated ones and broke up the song into short sections peppered throughout the whole set. Offering up plenty of witty banter, AB really amused the audience, who was all smiles. Other noticeable numbers came in the form of a rousing version of “Cooking With Satan” in which the crowd sang along loudly to the line “1 800 FUCKIN’ A” and an acapella version of AB’s new hit “Smoking to Live.” For the closer, AB played from his laptop a recording of some orchestral music over which he belted out some over-the-top vocal schmaltz. It was a hilarious and perfect ending to this awesome Alvarius B show.

    Alvarius B performs at Resident in Los Angeles, California on May 6, 2018.
    Alvarius B performs at Resident in Los Angeles, California on May 6, 2018.

    More Alvarius B: Arthur, Bandcamp, The Believer, The Beta Blog, The Big Takeover, Blastitude, The Brooklyn Rail, Film Comment, Forced Exposure (Alvarius B Catalog), Forced Exposure (Asia Argento), Forced Exposure (Sam Shalabi), Forced Exposure (AB on SCG’s Torch of the Mystics), Kaput Mag, Pop Matters (Interview), Pop Matters (Review), Prepared Guitar, Silber Media, Sweet Pea, TWTTIY, The Wire

    Words and photos ©2018 by Arcane Candy.

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