PLAYING DETROIT: The Final Days of 800beloved

COLUMNS|Playing Detroit


Most things begin, but all things must end. No one knows this better than Milford-based sonic artist and former undertaker, Sean Lynch: founding dreamer of the eternally unearthed post-punk, Macabre rock formation, 800beloved. Lynch has spent the last decade conjuring romantic hauntings taken from real life, sleep life, and the afterlife, turning them into a body of music that is unabashedly nuanced with a rawness that would perturb anyone less than willing to face living ghosts the way he has. A cryptic career that produced three full-length records, all of which speak to a perpetually kinetic dance between atmospheres following a trajectory that was as driven by numerology as it was by words and sounds, comes full circle next month when 800beloved silences themselves by means of a self-induced funeral. Eight years after their debut release, Bouquet, Lynch is ready to move on. This isn’t a throwing in of the metaphorical towel or a waving of a white flag, rather a perfect and poetically suited demise for a band that was, in a lot of ways, born to die. Here lies 800beloved; the band you missed (and the band I will miss.)

“I’m not interested in entertaining some immortal non-aging version of ourselves,” Lynch says. “I don’t want to be talking about the bipolarities of life and death anymore, not in that context. I’m done with that. I feel that if there were ever a way to take a Teen Vogue magazine and burn it and bury it…we were that and we did it; that strange combination of two things that should never meet.”

This timely death is almost a year to the day that 800beloved surprise released their third and final album, Some Kind of Distortion; a shimmering display of nostalgia and present tense veiled by their signature allusions of dreamscapes and tortured surrealism. “I’m not going to spell it out to a disinterested audience.” Lynch says. “We’ve never been as elusive as we’ve been made to feel. In any camp, we have always felt like a black sheep.” Lynch, of course, is referring to the bands umbrellaed reputation and whispered notoriety both in the local scene and the dream-pop/shoe gaze/post-punk formula at large. You can’t find the band on Spotify and you will never see them solicit for gig slots or editorial recognition. Hell, you’d probably mistaken their name in conversation for a phone number because, well, yeah, it is.

Torn between wanting to be heard and trying not to be found, 800 dug a grave all their own, filling it with symbolic talismans and deeply personal confessionary relics that speak to only those who are listening. From the eery reincarnation of the coffin featured on their debut album art work featured, now open and empty, as the promotional/emotional imagery for their farewell to the symbiotic marriage of numbers and private timelines all the way to poster fonts, live-performance projections and the names of colors used; none of which feel like a contrived stretch for meaning, more so a peephole into the inner workings of someone who is as intricately woven as these artfully shrouded pieces of postscript. “To our credit, everything we have done has been with the utmost thoughtfulness and we want our funeral to be done the same way. If we wanted a Hot Topic funeral we would have just gone to the mall.”

Having spent most of his life painting the faces of the dearly departed, consoling the families of transcending loved ones and writing the words that would immortalize the legacies of the expired, I ask Lynch if he anticipates going through the strangely unique motions of a real live death this time as the corpse, the coroner and the afflicted surviver. “I was restringing my guitar when we opened up for Modern English a couple months ago and I was thinking that this is the last set of strings I’m going to play with this band. I know that sounds minimal but to me the strings, the guitars, the amps, the pedals…I have such a relationship to everything.” Lynch explains.”I have to remind myself that at the end of the day this is going to matter the most to me even though I am comfortably numb to it now. But there have been countless things tapping at my window telling me that this is it. And I know it is.”

The final line-up includes Anastasiya Metesheva on bass, Ben Collins on drums and Lynch on vocals, guitar and production. Metesheva, an artist and radiant expressionist, has been an integral part of 800 since 2007. Collins, though having only joined in ’13, is no stranger to collaboration and brought life to Lynch’s compositions. There has been a revolving door of talent throughout the years, but this particular assembly is colorful and vibrant in all the ways 800 has come to embody. “If someone is looking for tabloid surrounding 800beloved they won’t find it. We don’t do that. The band members live three virtually very separate lives outside of this project. Stacy is painting and working to help support her family, Ben is in three other bands and has a career and I’m barely scraping by,” Lynch admits. “I just want to try to get one last hurrah while surmising any bit of sacredness that I can indulge in.”

The funeral, as Lynch described, is not a play on kitsch or satirical irony, as he of all people understands the weight of tagging something as a funeral. The remaining trio will bid farewell by performing Some Kind of Distortion in it’s entirety along with some undisclosed surprises.

So, yes. We are invited to celebrate life, art and a body of work that surpasses both rather than reading a half-hearted Facebook post about why a band has decided to “break-up.” The spectacle of theatrics surrounding a band throwing the first handful of dirt on their own grave is grandiose but not without substance. 800beloved will tread on territory they have spent a decade mapping out and although infrequently traveled, has left a passageway in their wake. “Something I wanted to bring out in this experience is that there are very fine lines between sex and death. And that fragility is not a new revelation but there is a certain liveliness that comes from experiencing a close proximity to death and a sexual experience being close to recreating or feeling as good as being reborn.” Lynch explains. “But what I really hope people take away from our funeral is the shock that a band can depart elegantly. Oh and that it’s also going to be fucking loud.”

800beloved goes silent on August 13th, 2016 at Detroit’s Marble Bar, admission is $8. Read 800beloved’s obituary here.

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