Arts Desk

The Way We Spiv Now: Ian Svenonius Inaugurates Club Lip-Sync

Ian Svenonius has a new day job. "Impresario at the Club Lip-Sync," he says.

The new gig, which might last exactly one day, has the Chain & the Gang frontman emceeing a lip-sync dance party at Adams Morgan vintage shop Meeps tonight. Svenonius says he's long dreamed of a pantomime party in which bands mouth the words to recordings of their own songs. "It's just an idea I've had for a long time," he says.

Svenonius brought the idea to Meeps owners Katerina Herodotou and Cathy Chung, who agreed to play host to his concept. He says it's born not so much of the drag tradition of lip-syncing, but from "the glory of lip syncing on Top of the Pops in England."

The singer has always taken a thinking-man's view of rock 'n' roll; look to his recent book, Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock 'n' Roll Group, a kind of road map to pursuing a life in the "industry" with a steady eye on artistic integrity and radical politics. He's fronted D.C. bands Nation of Ulysses, The Make-Up, Scene Creamers, and Weird War, in addition to his current band, Chain & the Gang. So it's no surprise that his explanation of Club Lip-Sync veers into the philosophical: "DJing so often becomes this historical exercise," he says; "To a lot of bands, the record was like a skin they were shedding."

Tonight, he summons his musician friends Mary Timony (currently of Wild Flag; previously of mildly dark rock band Helium), Alex Minoff (of Golden, Extra Golden, and Weird War), Give, and Violent Vibes to pantomime their own music. "That's the thing about the lip sync," he says. "You can just deliver the song."

Guests who are less schooled in the history and implications of lip syncing can still enjoy the free show; Kid Congo Powers will be in the house to DJ alongside Svenonius. "There's going to be lighting," he says. "Maybe a balloon or two." He adds, "It's really supposed to be a dance party with these momentary diversions."

He says he's looking forward to seeing the bands mouthing the words to their own recordings on stage. "I doubt there's going to be much rehearsal," he says. "Anything could happen." He pauses. "Or nothing could happen."

Club Lip-Sync starts tonight at 8 p.m. at Meeps, 2104 18th St. NW. Free. More information on Facebook.

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