Javelin duo to headline Friday Night Rock show

by Margarette Nelson | 10/8/14 1:23pm

Production and electronic duo Javelin used to bring a collection of painted boomboxes — in addition to all of the regular equipment — to shows. Each tuned to the same frequency, the boomboxes, either tethered outside the venue or placed decoratively onstage, could broadcast the performance live.

Comprised of cousins George Langford and Tom Van Buskirk, Javelin garnered attention beyond the local music scene in 2009, when they were named one of Pitchfork’s “Rising” bands and made the website’s “Albums of the Year: Honorable Mentions” list.

On Friday night, Javelin will headline a co-sponsored Friday Night Rock and Collis After Dark event in Sarner Underground. Memphis-based rapper Cities Aviv will open the show.

Friday Night Rock general manager Alex Procton ’15, who helped organize the show, described the band’s sound as “psychadelic, freak-rock with a lot of synths.”

The show is FNR’s most expensive event this term, and the only one that FNR has asked another group to co-sponsor, Stockton said.

“We’ve partnered with FNR before and those have been some really successful events,” David Pack, assistant director of Collis Center for Student Involvement, said. “When [FNR] reached out to us over the summer asking us if we wanted to co-host a show, we were happy to do it.”

Both Langford and Van Buskirk play various instruments, though Van Buskirk focuses on vocals and bass and Langford on electronic drums. The duo has steered clear of using additional musicians in the studio, preferring what Van Buskirk described as “the economy of just being two people.”

Javelin carries this self-reliance to the stage. Influenced by hip-hop and dance music from the 1980s, Van Buskirk said that the group aims for an upbeat party feel at concerts.

“We want to make people happy and make people dance,” he said.

Javelin uses backing tracks in performances, but is conscientious about not “being laptop musicians,” Van Buskirk said. “We didn’t find that all that exciting as audience members.”

The boomboxes, he said, “Sort of became wrapped up in our identity a little bit,” Van Buskirk said. When the band grew in popularity and its tour schedule began to include air travel, performing with boomboxes became increasingly difficult.

The boomboxes, he said, have since been memorialized as art.

“We removed the face plates from all of them, and now we make a sculpture out of them and hang it in the back of us,” Van Buskirk said.

He plans to bring the sculpture to the Friday show.

The group is working on new material, though Van Buskirk said deciding to work an album up front ends up “setting the stage for other decisions ... which is a bit oppressive.” Part of the appeal of 1980s hip-hop is its free-form characteristics, he said.

“There were no rules at that point,” Van Buskirk said. “People were doing whatever they wanted. It was very unpredictable and free-flowing and really fun.”

Though Van Buskirk described New York City as Javelin’s “home base,” both he and Langford currently reside in New England.

Javelin next travels to Allston, Massachusetts, for a performance on Monday.

The Friday performance in Bentley Theater will start at 9 p.m.