Kitchen Party, 2008
“When I get home, I’m gonna clean up my house…” Matthew Houck raises his voice in an old lady’s apartment with leftovers from the nightly festivity in front of his own Graceland interpretation. The fair-haired man with the moony glance behind Phosphorescent knows how to lull his environment with his music and keeps it prick-eared with comforting yelping, howling and multilayered sound and vocals. He came to Austria for playing a show at Donaufestival, where he met his friends from These Are Powers. Anna invited him to join them in a kitchen party in Vienna and as luck would have it he played an unannounced supporting act just the night before. It’s Monday noon now, Matthew leans next to Anna’s and his handiwork, takes another sip of his black coffee, squints out of the window and asks if his hair was okay as he had a couchsleepover with his bonnet on his head. After the hustle and bustle of the last night and with the workaday goings out in the streets the mournful yodel of Matthew smotheres the empty rooms. All the details from the light breeze that swirls the flowery curtains, the blinking banana in the hall – Matthew is jocular -, the overturned drum set in the living room, Graceland in your back – still jocular – and not to mention the insistent crack in Houck’s voice create a nearly surreal fragility. “…but I’m gonna go right back roaming.” The bags are packed.
An elderly lady used to live in this apartment with its for old Viennese apartments typically high ceilings, creaking parquet floor, double windows and patterned paperhangings. Furniture, tiles in the bathroom, curtains, walls – everything is yellowed with subdued, fading away colours. The kitchen – a wood panelled bar parlour with a counter to hand over food and drinks – has an alpine-rustic flair. It recalls the picture of an Austrian Heuriger – an inn mostly on the countryside or in the greener outskirts of the city, where wine from the current year (Heuriger) is served. As with many Heurigen it is hard to find everything in here tasteful and aesthetically appealing. But behind the scratched surface of chintzy neatness the apartment develops its real and rougher charm. For one night the vacant apartment transformed into the noisiest in town. A few days after the 2008-edition of the Donaufestival the living room served as a stage for an improvised and interactive performance from the Brooklyn-based Phosphorescent and These Are Powers (who were both part of the festival line-up and stayed in Vienna for some more days), with some of the enthusiastic music lovers in the audience joining in. After the guerrilla gigging in the living room, people made themselves homey in the old-fashioned kitchen.