By Amber L. Novotny
Denver-based band Itchy-O have announced their presence at this year’s Dark MOFO Fest in Hobart, Tasmania, starting June 10th through June 21st, 2016. Ritualistic in nature, Itchy-O’s performances are entrancing, and tend to involve the entire venue-space. They stand amongst the crowd and play, enticing everyone to dance, and become part of the ceremony. There are over thirty people in this band! Mainly a drum corps battery, Itchy-O employs snare drums, timbales, quint and quad tenors, roto-toms, bass drums, gongs, crash cymbals, synthesizers, samples, electric bass and guitar, Theremins and even Chinese Lion Dancers. The vocals are transformed with devices called vocoders. They’ve been described as a “satanic marching band”, although Itchy-O didn’t necessarily dub themselves this. As one watches the performance, however, the moniker may not be far from the truth. Each musical member dons a black mask, and a uniform, perhaps even a sombrero or a gas-mask, creating a creepy anonymity, and a hive-like unity. The energy and sound is intense and tribal-like.
Seemingly much more than “a band”, Itchy-O is a musical entity that ebbs and flows across the lands, unexpectedly performing at venues along their way, much to the audience’s delight. The 30-plus battalion of people form more of an art piece than a musical group. Dancers and provocateurs roam around the audience to motivate movement. Lights, fog, sensuality and fury color the atmosphere; the performance is an industrial experience for more of the senses than just sight and sound.
Itchy-O has an impressive list of accomplishments. Each year since 2011, their New Year’s Eve performances have sold out at Denver’s well-known and beloved 3 Kings Tavern. They’ve shared a stage with David Byrne (Talking Heads), Iggy Pop, The Melvin’s, Warlock Pinchers, Devo, Beats Antique, Bad Religion and Public Enemy. They’ve played many festivals across America, including Riot Fest and the Stanley Film Festival. The Westword voted Itchy-O as the best avant-garde act in 2014, and best experimental act in 2015. Their first full- length LP was released under Jello Biafra’s record label, Alternative Tentacles, proving they have definitely made their mark. And now they travel across the world to hand out their madness like candy in a parade.
If you’re lucky enough to be traveling to Tasmania this June, the Dark MOFO runs across Hobart, Mona, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Dark Park, Winter Feast, City Hall and more. It is Australia’s annual pilgrimage celebrating the dark with public art, food, film, music, light and noise.
Itchy-O is certainly a good fit for this festival. Their “primal-futuristic” sound formed in 2009 with their first EP being released on 2011, called Inferno! Their sophomore album, Burn the Navigator was released in 2014. This year, at Dark MOFO, Itchy-O will be performing new music from their upcoming album slated for release later in 2016. They will officially be blowing everyone’s minds on June 17th. Luckily for many of us, however, they are from Denver! Meaning they’ll be back, and all of us will soon get to partake in what could easily be one of the most intriguing experiences ever.