local music, lately: Hibernator Gigs

June 23rd, 2013 · No Comments · By

When I posted last week about Invisible Hand‘s Squirrel Jail tape, it reminded me that we haven’t covered (extensively) some great local releases that have come out in the past few months, especially those on the Hibernator Gigs label, founded in 2011 by Dave Gibson and Renee Reighart (whose last names are an anagram of “Hibernator Gigs”). They have so far released a promotional seven-inch called Songs in the Key of Bob and a debut EP by their project Weird Mob, plus produced videos for Left & Right, Invisible Hand, and Borrowed Beams of Light. If you need a primer on the Charlottesville creative scene, the artists on and around Hibernator Gigs are the place to start. There’s no unifying Charlottesville sound, but there’s a creative spirit that unites a lot of the artists around here, and it’s great to see them supporting each other with projects like this.

Weird Mob’s Dave and Renee, from the HG website

The first release on Hibernator Gigs back in Feburary 2013 was a seven-song EP by Weird Mob. The group is the musical project of label owners and married duo Dave Gibson and Renee Reighart, along with Adam Brock (also of Invisible Hand and Borrowed Beams) on drums, Brian Hoffa on guitar, and Kris Hough on keyboards. The They’re a Weird Mob EP retains the earnest pop sensibilities of Borrowed Beams, another project of Dave Gibson, but in a more subdued manner that takes more cues from new wave than power pop. Its retro-sounding synths, sweet harmonies, and catchy guitar lines prove rewarding listen after listen. “Street Brawl” showcases the group’s ability to write addictive, memorable songs, and “School for Akters” and “Week of Wednesdays” allows the group’s playfulness to draw in the listener. This Cville interview with Dave and Renee from around the time of the EP’s release reveals their desire to make something that both harnesses their creativity and celebrates the fertile rock scene in Charlottesville.

The second release on Hibernator Gigs in May 2013, Songs in the Key of Bob, originated in the mind of Weird Mobber Adam Brock as he was sorting through thesis and journal titles in a library warehouse. He asked his favorite bands to choose one of the nonsense titles he came up with that day and record an original song composed in the style of GBV. Four Charlottesville bands appear on the compilation (Invisible Hand, Left & Right, Borrowed Beams, Weird Mob) along with Digging Up Virgins (Norfolk), The Moore Brothers (Grass Valley, CA), and Naked Gods (Boone, NC). The compilation is a tribute to the DIY spirit, down to the pressing of the record itself. A recent blog post on the HG website details the process of pressing the record at Musicol in Columbus, OH.

Songs in the Key of Bob goes fast, of course, as it’s seven songs packed onto seven inches of blue vinyl. The record reveals what each band has taken away from GBV records, and incorporates that into each group’s already-clear aesthetic. There are some dead-on Robert Pollard-esque vocals, especially from Invisible Hand and Naked Gods. Left & Right take more of an aesthetic cue from GBV, and turn out a minute-long blast of urgent, lo-fi energy. Borrowed Beams turn out the addictive “Stone Cutter’s Journal” that reminds me of a later GBV record. There’s also “Alice Bird” from The Moore Brothers and “Viet Cong Motivation” by Digging Up Virgings that recall GBV’s calmer moments. Many GBV songs feel too short, and demand multiple plays in which you try to pin down the twists and turns of multiple hooks trapped inside the length of half a normal pop song. In the same way, Songs in the Key of Bob showcases the wealth of talent connected to the HG crowd, gives those bands an opportunity to demonstrate their creativity and versatility, and leaves the listener wanting to hear more.

When they’re not releasing music, Hibernator Gigs have been producing videos for local artists, including some for Borrowed Beams of Light: “Half Light,” “King and Queen,” and “Wing Stroke” (the latter a parody of Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies” video that involves singer Adam Brock dressed as every member of the band). They also made Invisible Hand’s “Psychic Cat” video, which showed up on Stereogum at the end of last year. Hibernator Gigs’ videos are where their love of Charlottesville becomes evident, with references that will garner a knowing smile from any local: shots of the Pavilion and Random Row in “Psychic Cat,” an evil puppet ripping off Gwen at Melody Supreme, and the Downtown Mall in “King and Queen.” Keep an eye out for their as-yet-unreleased latest video, filmed in town for Left & Right‘s “Virginia Settlement” track.

And this is only the beginning. Before the end of this year, Hibernator Gigs plans to release the debut full-length by Weird Mob, the next full-length album by Borrowed Beams of Light, and some digital-only releases on Bandcamp. Don’t miss Weird Mob’s show at the Southern on June 28. They’re playing with Challenger to celebrate the release of Charlottesville’s Dwight Howard Johnson‘s debut LP Take Anything.

Tags: charlottesville · feature · review