Once upon a Mattress

Jerid Morris of Great Northern Guns at The Mattress Factory. Photo by Francesca Camillo.

The Mattress Factory
1907 S. St. Mary’s

“It’s good to see all you hillbillies again. I’ve missed you,” Great Northern Guns vocalist Jerid Morris welcomed the crowd on Thursday, June 7, at The Mattress Factory.

The Factory’s proprietress, Eva Trimm, is ambitious and determined to make the three-month-old venue a key part of San Antonio’s diverse, prolific art and music circuit. Its charm is fueled by a proximity to Union Pacific’s heavily trafficked tracks, carrying freight and passenger trains close enough to pierce through any conversation in sporadic metallic tangents. Currently, the Factory is BYOB, but Trimm is working on a wine and beer license,       

As Trimm scurried about, tweaking lights, organizing, and connecting cords to equipment, her determination was laced with a kind of warm hospitality that seems to be waning with each surfacing venue. Making sure seating was ample, Trimm covered her bases adeptly, running herself hard, and sweating with the best of us. “I’m learning so much,” she explained, since the air conditioner had decided not to comply for the rather humid evening. “Now, I can look at an AC unit and figure out what’s wrong. I can even hook up a PA system now.” But one of the things Trimm has learned is that BYOB has its drawbacks; when mommy isn’t there to clean up after baby, sometimes baby leaves a mess. “I’m janitor, booker, and promoter,” she explained, though unperturbed.

Keeping morale high before the show and in between sets, DJ’s Colin and Daecos of The Shape of Phunk to Come maintained an admirable of enthusiasm and exhumed essential albums from Gang of Four, The White Octave, and others.

On a petite stage, Great Northern Guns were industrious and spry, sharing the narrow plank before the drums with learned caution and respect, but taking advantage of mobility and the afforded floor room. With “All the King’s Horses,” demanding as it is of extended breath and attention to its mosaic structure, the boys were diligent and tempered by drummer Patrick Schowe’s “dirty” form. Goading the audience along with confrontational lyrics, the Guns adeptly identify the various stages of cause and effect, and then proceed to shatter any deduction because it is still insufficient. Infused by sardonic commentary on progress, which thereby negates that progress, the Guns’ crash into external expectation sometimes comes phonically, as in the aforementioned song, and sometimes it comes in a convergence of the four quadrants of the band, embodying the process of creation and delivering it in the rawest form to whoever will listen.

Make Your Own Maps have forged a unique style of chaotic verse heavily laden with populist undertones. Highlighting the grotesque, ritual aspects of human nature and human experience in staggered bursts of honesty and censure, Maps chastise all. They illustrate why in occasionally vulgar imagery, but always take responsibility for any complicity. Lyrically provocative and ardently subversive, Maps are as close to a contemporary example of Ishmael Reed’s Jes Grew I’ve seen yet.

Underscored by erratic movement, they trust and encourage one another to be consumed by moments of purity they’ve created and brashly present. Their newest song, “Son of a Priest,” is possibly their most scathing, accosting your ears with the piercing reality of what blind tenacity brings, shaming the subject and the listener.

With accessible, poppy, dance beats, and shades of New Wave, Reader’s smooth execution of each well-rehearsed and familiar song was agreeable. An obviously well-cultivated dynamic resounds during the group’s live performances and the unveiling of a new song showed promise.

Throughout the evening, predictable clusters of people spilled outside to cool off and chat. Arbitrary allegiances to this band or that were an expected presence, and sometimes a barrier for conversation. But uniting over the common interest of supporting friends and musicians is always the plain on which this convergence occurs,  so by any standard this was a successful night for both The Mattress Factory and the bands involved. 


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