The Works is always filled with TBA regulars, but on the night of local band 31 Knots the hipsters came out of the dingy woodwork in force. For once the crowd was full of the 20 somethings I usually see while locking bikes up outside of bars, at house parties with homemade beer, or out dancing in speakeasies. But at a Time Based Arts show? I was thrilled.
Joe Haege, lead singer for 31 Knots, tends bar at hipster haven Tube Unbreakable in Chinatown. He’s a snappy dresser at work, sometimes sporting entirely purple outfits and frequently wearing a bowtie, so it was no surprise that his main stage outfit consisted of a beige military uniform complete with service hat and meticulously shined shoes. His face was painted a bright white, but once he saluted the crowd and began jumping, slithering, and singing hard, the paint began to melt off in glops. Later he changed on stage (a Works theme) into a tailored dinner jacket and red bowtie. Ah, the bowtie!
As Joe sang, white hand marks of face paint got everywhere. The guitarist played with gusto, flailing his arm out in guitar serifs. The drummer produced crisp, hard beats, and the crowd moved along with them. Someone from the audience, composed of fans and some miffed looking older TBAers, asked, “where is the bass guitar?” Joe, who had been interacting with the crowd with “shut-up!” and, “thank you very fucking much,” responded, “I don’t know, not here.” At one point Joe, dripping face paint, peeled himself off a pole and descended into the crowd. Climbing onto a chair in a spotlight he teetered wildly, dry heaving. I was on the tips of my toes. Would he hurl on the crowd? I half expected it, except it might ruin the bowtie, and 31 Knots is way too cerebral for such slatternly theatrics. Instead Joe wobbled forward, back, and forward, making the immediate onlookers uncomfortable, then sprung backward to the floor in a burst of rainbow confetti.
The band’s tagline from their website ( is “All know-not let-goes upfront embraced in time.” What that means, I have no idea. More telling is this, #8 from the site’s “The intentions of us”: “To attempt to blur the line between theater, sincerity, politics and art. Yep, still pretentious assholes.”
Four songs into the performance, Joe cited technical difficulties and ended it. The crowd, moaning, was told to shut the fuck up. And as far as I can tell, they loved it.
There are many, many opportunities for us youngsters to volunteer and get involved in TBA, but year after year I have trouble convincing friends that TBA is worth the cost and time of attending. Once I manage to drag friends to Works shows like Neal Medlyn, Universes, and 10 Tiny Dances, they want to come to everything and volunteer next year. It’s getting people in the TBA door that poses a challenge. Including 31 Knots this year was a savvy move on PICAs part, and introduced me to a local band that I can continue to see throughout the year.
–Carissa Wodehouse
Freelance writer, enthusiast
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