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    I’m in the unfinished basement of a home in the Highlands for the Buddy Crime show. On this unseasonably warm October evening, yellow string lights hang across the low ceiling and a “stage” is comprised of oddly shaped squares of carpet.

    The crowd of 18- to 20-something-year-olds packs in between a pile of dirty laundry and dusty workout equipment. Geometric graphics and ’80s-style video footage whirl across stacked TV monitors. Deep, bouncy synth sounds boom, and William Carpenter, aka Buddy Crime, runs from the back of the basement to the front, lunging forward with the aid of shoulders in the crowd.

    Carpenter, a 27-year-old Louisville native, has been performing as the fictional character Buddy Crime since 2014, when he conceived of Vern™, a fictional, now-defunct multimedia and entertainment research corporation. Carpenter says there was a bug in the system, and Buddy Crime was rendered self-aware. Curious about the physical world, Buddy Crime then hacked a bio 3D printer in London and printed itself so that it could perform the pop music it had created. Carpenter has performed as Buddy Crime on tour twice in London and opened the White Reaper show at Headliners in June. This month, Buddy Crime is on a regional tour stretching from Chicago to St. Petersburg, Florida.

    At the house show, Buddy Crime grabs the orange microphone stand and sings like a high-pitched version of the British actor and singer Tim Curry (Rocky Horror Picture Show), layering vocals over a mix of electronic sounds reminiscent of Peter Gabriel and Herbie Hancock. The crowd jumps up and down, cheap pints of whiskey in hand. Buddy Crime shakes his hips while holding his hands in front of him, flipping them back and forth, exposing palm then knuckle. Picking up the orange guitar that matches the jumpsuit and mic stand, he unleashes a catchy, distorted riff over the music. (Carpenter says Buddy Crime wears orange because it’s “the color of the sacral chakra, the chakra which is associated with sexuality.” He adds that Buddy Crime’s “findings indicate sex to be the most prominent motif throughout all pop music.”) He slings the guitar to his back and hits a couple of keys on a keyboard, then strips off the jumpsuit to reveal black leather overalls. The crowd lets out a loud cheer. Buddy Crime leans into them, and they jump as one unit.

    This originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Louisville Magazine under the headline “Buddy’s Up.” To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    Photos by Mickie Winters,

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    About Katie Molck

    Loretta Lynn is the best country music singer of all time and if you don't like pickled foods, you can leave.

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