The Loft-Off: Day 1

    UCSD is finally starting to figure out fun (one baby step at a time), and the grand opening of multi-purpose venue the Loft on the second floor of the new Price Center has already gotten so many things right: free (or cheap) nightly entertainment, a new 24-hour food establishment nearby (even if it is Burger King), a bar with beer and wine and a respectable showcase for local artwork. But enough ArtPower circle jerking — what have their efforts truly birthed?

    Let’s start with the vaguely meaningless slogan: “Where Emerging Art and Pop Culture Collide.” In practice, this equates to a stylistic free-for-all, eclectic often to a fault. On opening night, modern bluegrass and Middle Eastern rock bombarded a crowd still sombered by string ensembles Built and The Calder Quartet, the random assortment of ear-splitting jukebox noise hopping through genres without a care in the world — while a projection of Kubrick’s classic “2001: A Space Odyssey” dragged us through 15 minutes of comotose astronauts and a peering robot eye.

    With all these isolated stimuli to process, most of the club’s apparent aim for lounge ambience and sophisticated mod was lost to sensory overload. Fortunately, ArtPower’s cultural hyperconsciousness eventually paid off, as headliner Nortec broke the tension with their electro-mariachi wizardry and transformed the stiff performance muesum into a full-fledged Tijuana nighclub. The trio brought their own trippy video accompaniment and blew minds with special light-grid instruments that pulsated to the beat — all while lookin’ mighty sharp in their cowboy hats. For a half-hour, I was a Loft believer.

    The Loft’s Fall-quarter schedule establishes the space as another much-needed avenue on campus to keep freshmen out of their laptop-lit caverns and give the rest of us a reason to stay on campus at all. University Events’ pet project is headed in the right direction; now all it needs is a map.

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