Press Play: A new, cool use for an old friend

The Swedish band Cikatri$ stopped by the Imperial Valley Press on Wednesday after playing in the famed South by Southwest Festival earlier this month. The key tar punk band played a couple of songs in the industrial wing of the Imperial Valley Press as part of a new series of video concerts called Press Play. ELIZABETH VARIN PHOTO

If you like good music, read on and then Press Play.

The Swedish post-punk band CIKATRI$ arrived at the Imperial Valley Press on Wednesday night with all its equipment — drums, guitars and amps, a keytar and mini synth — ready to shake the walls a bit … in French.

The group is on its first tour of the United

States, and recently played a showcase at Austin’s famed South By Southwest Music Festival.

CIKATRI$ and a number of national and international garage rock and punk bands with SXSW ties will be traveling though the Valley in upcoming weeks to perform at Strangers bar in downtown El Centro.

I’ve already written about this a few weeks ago; what I didn’t tell you is that many of them have agreed to drop by the newspaper’s offices the day of their gigs to record a new series for our website called Press Play.

On Thursday we posted that first session, and we’re still working out the kinks sonically, but it’s pretty awesome nonetheless.

We have a couple of aims with this series. First and foremost, we have a lot of music fans in the newsroom, people interested in unique music performed in interesting locations, and that’s where the press in Press Play comes in.

We’re repurposing an old friend with a new, cooler mission. Our press shut down over a year ago because of some technical and financial issues, but it is very much a part of our history — a history that deserves a little face time.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we’re mimicking a colleague’s efforts at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, albeit with a punk rock (and eventually other styles of original music) twist.

Press Play in Indiana is featuring musicians amid the backdrop of their still-operational printing presses, a little grungy in some areas, but mostly a clean and well-kept machine.

We cribbed that idea with an homage to the industrialized look and feel of music videos reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s “People are People,” shot in the bowels of a battleship, or Helmet’s “Unsung,” pulsating among an angular, interestingly lit performance space.

To us, focusing at first on the kind of loose, modern feel of new garage and punk juxtaposed with the post-industrial scenery of an ink-splattered, greasy-geared, ’60s- and ’70s-era Frankenstein press machine was a natural use of the space.

At least it made sense to some of us here at the paper.

It’s symbolic, in a way, of that incorrect idea that newspapers are archaic, a vestige of an aging subscriber base losing relevance in a youth-oriented, social media-saturated culture.

In a larger sense, Press Play is the convergence of these ideas, refuting the irrelevance while accepting the need to draw in a more eclectic, younger audience. Yes, you can make an attempt to serve two masters.

We have a lot to offer our community; there is no one else covering news with the variety and depth that we do. And our online presence and visual storytelling increases every day.

Press Play is just another sharp arrow in our quiver. And seriously; it’s damn cool if the local musicians come forward.

I would have given my eyeteeth to see something like this done earlier, but sometimes you have to wait for the technology and the timing to be right. Strangers is providing the timing and touring bands, and we have some of the technology and talent to bring it all together.

Next week, we will host Burger Records artists Pizza Time of Denver the night of their Strangers show. Pizza Time will arrive in the Valley after sharing the stage at Burgerama Four with the likes of Weezer and Black Lips.

Eventually we’ll bring in local musicians of varying styles. Our only requirement will be that the music is original songwriting.

Today, though, get your new music fix with CIKATRI$, expertly shot by Alejandro Dávila Fragoso and Elizabeth Varin, with sound by Mark Maldonado and the hookup from Ernie Quintero. We’ll be doing a lot more of this, and fine-tuning as we go.

OK, now go online and Press Play.

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