On the Scene: Christian nightclub fills void

October 23, 2009 

You can get listings anywhere, but you'll only get the story here.

CLUBBIN': What is there to do tonight?

It's a question many adults ask themselves. There's an easy answer because there are plenty of bars and clubs in the area. But what if you're looking for something for your soul, something that involves a particular kind of fellowship?

There isn't a lot of stuff on the calendar for young Christian adults. Nouveaux Riches Christian Promotions wants to fill that void. Tonight it will host "iAmRich," a launch party at the Arcade Mall.

Tenisha Waldo, who started Nouveaux Riches with high school friends Courtney Stewart and Disha Parvatam, said the house gatherings and game nights had gotten stale. When the regulars stopped showing up, they knew it was time to do something different.

"We had been complaining about it for a little while," Waldo said. "We had to stop waiting for someone to do something for us and create our own opportunity."

There is a wealth of Christian events on college campuses and for high school teens. But what about post-grads who are still looking to hang out? Waldo and friends want to be a unifying outlet where Christian young adults across denominations can convene.

"What we hope to do is encourage young adults from different churches and denominations to unite," Waldo said. "We're a ministry in a sense, but we're not a church."

Tony Gee of gospel station WFMV-FM 95.3 will DJ, spinning a variety of Christian music, including hip-hop, reggae and rock. And there will be plenty of dancing.

"It's all right to dance in church; it's all right to dance here," Waldo said.

Christian nightclubs have sprouted in other cities, including Charlotte and Atlanta. And there are Christian-themed events in town, most recently the Holypalooza concert in Finlay Park organized by Steve Seshun.

But "iAmRich" is something radical for Columbia.

"It's just trying to catch Columbia up with the times," Waldo said. "We're really excited. This is something very new for us."

If you're looking for something to do tonight that won't have you blaming your actions on the alcohol, you might want to start here.

"There's so much power in fellowship," Waldo said. "If one person is introduced to Christ, then that's a success."

The Arcade Mall is at 1332 Main St. at Main and Washington streets. $10; http://www.OurRichHisWay.com

DYNAMIC: So Many Dynamos' music is architecture, the melodies precise and angular. The St. Louis-based quartet will perform at 10 p.m. Monday at The Whig.

The band released its third album, "The Loud Wars," in June. The record, which reconfigures several rock subgenres, including math, dance punk and indie-pop, was produced by Death Cab For Cutie guitarist Chris Walla. (If you listen to NPR, you'd know Walla recently collaborated with J. Robbins of Jawbox and Burning Airlines for the public broadcaster's "Project Song" feature. Walla and Robbins, who had never met before, wrote and recorded the song "Mercury" in two days.)

"He understood what we were doing probably on a deeper level than we did," said Clayton Kunstel, So Many Dynamos' drummer. "He has the most brilliant mind of anyone I've ever worked with. He was constantly three or four steps ahead.

"I think I was desensitized after working with him."

At one point, Walla recorded Kunstel, who was wearing goggles and drinking a glass of wine, cutting strings on a guitar. The result made it into the song "The Novelty of Hunting."

"There's a terrible sound out of nowhere," Kunstel said. "He did it because (there was) a mistake. He was like, 'Let's just put something over it.'"

"Artifacts of Sound," from the album, is one of my favorite songs of the year. The percussion is propulsive, the guitars are crunchy and the keyboards stab at the melody. The vocals reach an anthemic pitch.

Kunstel, along with Griffin Kay (guitar and vocals), Aaron Stovall (vocals, keyboard and percussion) and Ryan Wasoba (guitar, keyboard and vocals), creates songs without regard to traditional meters.

"Over time of playing and listening to music like that, eventually it becomes naturalized in a way you hear it and think about melodies," Kunstel said. "A melody doesn't have to exist in a certain meter.

"When you break it down, you can count it all out."

The size of a room affects the live sound of So Many Dynamos. In a large room, sound tends to bounce off walls, forcing the band to temper its tempos. Kunstel learned that when the band opened for Death Cab For in an arena.

"A song would end abruptly, and it would come back to you a second and a half later," he said. "It was amazing."

And what about the intimate confines of The Whig?

"That's kind of a favorite sometimes," Kunstel said. "You can put as much energy as you want into it. There's less variables. You can really give everything to the song or the performance."

Opening for So Many Dynamos is Cinemechanica, another band that demands precision from its sound. Cinemechanica is also (hipster) famous for playing the background music to Nintendo games while a gamer plays live. Cinemechanica, which is based in Athens, plays loud. You'll find out what soundwaves can do to your body. Especially in a tight space.

"I'm just scared to death, and I'm excited. The thought that we're going to have to play after them," Kunstel said. "Your body is so tired. There's not much room in your mind after seeing them."

The Whig is at 1200 Main St. Free; (803) 931-8852

NEW DIGS: The closing of The Sheds has left many bands with practice-space questions. Jack Beasley has an answer. He plans to open The Mill, a rehearsal space, in a few months.

Beasley, a USC graduate, had planned on opening the space in a year. But since The Sheds had the plug pulled earlier this month, he's had to speed things up.

"We gotta push this thing a lot faster," he told me.

On The Mill's Web site, http://www.themillsc.com, there's a concept of the floor plan and a list of what will be offered: air-conditioned rooms; sound dampening; a PA system in every room; flexible monthly rates; and storage lockers.

But Beasley hasn't signed a lease for his idea yet.

"We're pretty close to signing a lease," he said. "We're looking at a place close to downtown, but outside the city limits."

Beasley added that The Mill will be zoned heavy industry, which will alleviate the central complaint about The Sheds.

"We don't have the same problems as far as noise concerns," he continued.

Beasley, 26, was laid off from his job in Florida in February. His wife got a job in Columbia, and the couple moved here in June.

"If nobody else is going to hire me, I'm going to make it for myself," Beasley said.

The model, essentially a band timeshare, has been popular in cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. It's unproven here. The warehouse space Beasley is interested in is about 6,000 square feet. The Mill will open only using 1,000, with plans to build out, Beasley said. The Mill will initially have two rooms, which will "accommodate 18 bands scheduling wise."

On the Scene will follow this, so stay tuned.

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