Brute Finesse

Brute Finesse are, from left: Shane Rooney, Nicole Cannavaro, Sean Burress and Larry Hirshberg. The hip-hop group play at Voncommon's Fur Ball June 1. 

It’s time for the annual VonCommon ball, where the art collective’s warehouse off of Wyoming Street gets turned into art-Missoula prom for an evening.

The theme is Fur Ball, encouraging attendees to don “furry wares” in an “all-out costume extravaganza.”

“This year they wanted to do a different take on it,” VonCommon member Katie Ludwick said. “An animal-themed costume party, but with the prom aspect of dressing up.”

How people interpret that, Ludwick said, may make for some pretty interesting get-ups.

Ludwick (who goes by ladypajama in the art world) was part of a group planning effort that involved several VonCommon members, mostly Lillian Nelson, she said.

This year’s event will be more focused on the ball and live music, Ludwick said, as the collective decided not to have artists clean out their studios for art display space this year. That can put artists behind a month or more in their schedules.

“Normally we do a big art show,” Ludwick said. “It’s not going to be the full, giant warehouse that’s all one big art show.”

But the warehouse will all be open, with a red carpet that costume contestants will walk and the chance to check out VonCommon artists’ work in progress.

Ludwick helped organize a 50/50 raffle, with tickets $1 apiece, or $10 for an armlength, with half the proceeds to the winner and half to VonCommon. Drink sales, provided by Montucky Cold Snacks, will go toward VonCommon as well.

There is also a concert, featuring Brute Finesse, Wailing Aaron Jennings, Powerplant and Go Hibiki.

Brute Finesse are weird in all of the ways you would expect from Missoula: a supergroup made up of Sean Burress (Red Onion Purple), Shane Rooney, Larry Hirshberg and Nicole Cannavaro, who sling funky '90s-styled hip-hop.

The beats are courtesy of Burress, the funk guitar rhythms from Hirschberg, the lewd lyrics from Rooney and sweet melodies from Cannavaro all combine into a truly wild group that should be seen. They have a series of live videos from a February performance at Free Cycles that is worth checking out, if nothing else for the (maybe improvised?) lyrics to “Tasty,” where Rooney immediately gets into a rhyme pocket over some rubbery synth bass.

Wailing Aaron Jennings (recently profiled by the Missoulian) is Missoula’s own yodeling cowboy, rocking a vintage western getup (and playing antique guitars) who would fit right in next to '30s country stars like Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers.

Powerplant will take the night for another left turn, bringing their free-jazz improvisations, which feature drummer Dusty Shriver and saxophonist Justin Matousek. The duo can go from speed-jazz freakouts to atmospheric ambiance in a single song, Matousek applying his foot to multiple effects pedals he runs his saxophone through.

And, with a third left turn, coming full circle, are emo-punks Go Hibiki, whose melodic, poppy punk rages against hypocrisy and loneliness, and references Pokemon Crystal.