‘Cage in Search of a Bird’ Album Destruction Experience
On Saturday November 19, I arrived at the Bridgetown DIY venue, in La Puente, knowing that that night’s show would not be the same old spiel that usually occurs at local bands’ shows, mostly due to the fact that instead of promoting/selling a new album, it would be about the destruction of an old one. Last spring Creeper Magg had the pleasure of interviewing Ainsworth just as their first album ‘Cage in Search of a Bird’ was being released and they were about to embark on their first tour as a band through Arizona, New Mexico, and back to California. The origin story of how Ainsworth came to exist is unusual because it has thrived in a myriad of forms, from a one man band, to a trio, to a full band, and then back and forth once again with different musicians. Last time we interviewed Ainsworth, Tristan Puig, who is the main man behind ‘Ainsworth,’ told us that the bands of his local music scene in Whittier/La Mirada inspired him to produce music of his own because it seemed like his friends were having a blast.
The album ‘Cage in Search of a Bird’ kind of sends you into an emotional spiral of sadness, fear, anxiety, and some hope as you listen about Puig’s own emotional journey. When you listen to the album you can sense the amount of thought that went into it and how Puig is unapologetic in letting everyone know exactly how he feels right in that moment of the song. Puig’s emotions that he unleashes into each and every track of the album, along with the idea of destroying CDs, made us at Creeper Magg very interested in going to the event, because we didn’t know what to expect. The reason for organizing the destruction of the album was to ease some of the emotions set around not selling many albums when Ainsworth went on their tour this past summer. Puig writes on his instagram (@Ainsworthless) that the event was about the “acceptance of the constant financial and emotional desperation held by independent artists…and of the temporary nature of the relationships we as humans form when creating things that are so special to us.”
The evening started with us being the first ones to enter besides those who were performing, although we initially we thought we were running late, nevertheless we were welcomed in and given our own copy of the album so that we could destroy it any way we saw fit later in the night. As I looked through a couple of the zines on display at the venue and a couple minutes went by, more people filed in, each receiving their own copy of ‘Cage in Search of a Bird.’ There was a very relaxed vibe about the whole room, festive lights strung along on the far wall and colorful balloons thrown about on the floor as well as on the wall, signified the fact that this was some sort of celebration, not a funeral, for ‘Cage in Search of a Bird.’ Most of the audience was sitting with their legs crossed, like you do in elementary school, so it felt almost like a gathering at a campfire during summer camp.
Rough Stuff was the first one to perform, composed of solely of Gabe Ferralez and his guitar, at the moment. Right off the bat, Rough Stuff’s high spirit kicked off the mood at the start to be energized and ready to take on the emotional journey that would progress at the end of the night when Puig would perform the ‘Cage in Search of a Bird’ in its entirety. Next was Layla Farahani, another solo performer with only a guitar in hand, however she set the whole room in a whole new direction with her calming voice. Farahani’s set was alluring, her voice reminiscent of Cat Power, and her song’s were witty, with titles such as ‘Polka Dots’ and ‘Part Time Friend.’ Lastly, before the full ‘Cage in Search of a Bird’ set, was Arden Klawitter and the Powerclaps, which were composed solely of a bassist and a drummer. The Powerclaps’ songs sounded experimental and fast-paced so they took a different direction from Farahani’s performance, and added more anticipation leading up to Ainsworth’s performance.
Finally after enjoying all of the previous performers, the moment we had all been anticipating had arrived: the destroying of the album ‘Cage in Search of a Bird.’ Some used the tools, such as hammers or pliers, in which Puig had put on a table with the intention that they would be appreciated in assisting audience members with breaking his album, while others merely went at it like animals and used their bare hands. Nevertheless, when you let a group of young adults smash a CD, they won’t disappoint, and not one ‘Cage in Search of a Bird’ album was left whole in the audience.
After the chaos, Puig walked into the stage area, guitar in hand, and asked that all the remains be thrown up on the stage part of the room. Puig began his set with the first song on the album, ‘Call Dr. Horder,’ which was an eerie start. The lyrics ‘Isn’t it grand when loneliness is your best chance at survival, why do you still get out of bed?’ set a melancholy mood over the event. Puig crooned the words with his guitar covered in curled ribbons, which only contributed more to the celebration-vibe despite the sad song. Crowd favorites such as ‘Dear Congressman,’ which is a fun satire about the folks who are pro-gun and allows audiences to see the utter ironies that lie in their logic and reasoning, allowed everyone to sway along to the upbeat song. Song by song, Puig played through the whole album, as emotions such as angst and anxiety, surged through his songs, he stomped on the mangled corpses that were once CDs. The rawness of the emotions present in the cd-destroying performance made me think that maybe the whole event should have been recorded and released as a live album.
The concept that albums can be so prestigious and bring such novelty to an artist, is the exact reason why Ainsworth had hosted this event. Independent artists who truly put their heart and soul, sweat and tears, into an album, merely don’t benefit from it like those of the mainstream pop stars, who might not even lay a finger in writing their own songs. Puig did end the night on a high note saying that maybe physical CDs weren’t the way to go for his future musical endeavors, however maybe he’d venture into the possibility of exploring putting his music on vinyl or cassettes. For now he said Ainsworth’s music would endure this cd-destroying event on Bandcamp, iTunes, and Spotify, so please check out Ainsworth’s music and creep on his social media. Stay rad and creep it real.
Arden Klawitter & the Powerclaps-John Klawitter & Nadiya Dubova
Rough Stuff-Gabe Ferralez
Article by Emily Kimura
Photos by Kelsea Cadena and Caroline Kimura