Monday, November 19, 2007
Blastitude Write-Up of October 27 Show
CHICAGO SHOW REPORT
Air Conditioning, Mammal, Cadaver in Drag, Paranoid Time, Bloodyminded, 10/27/07 @ The Flower Shop.
Sick show dude, in fact, I’m so out of show-going shape (some call it “getting old”) that I actually got SICK at this show. The good news is that I did not actually vomit, thanks to the quick and correct diagnosis that I was suffering from dehydration and malnutrition, as in I had not had a drop of water since three in the afternoon, but did have five beers instead of eating any dinner, and was currently at a fucking Bloodyminded gig in a fucked-up smoke-filled space on the south side of Chicago. Not only that, but a strangely lugubrious and melancholy Bloodyminded gig that seemed to last twice as long as their usual blowout. It was still a good one, with preposterous sonics and many fine Mark Solotroff intros on such topics as the P.A., the just-opened Joy Division flick, and special guest Greh Holger ("From Ann Arbor -- I think I liked him better when he was from Detroit"), but the songs themselves seemed slow and distant, probably because they were literally the warmup band, going first on an epic bill with a pre-9PM start time on a cold fall night. It seemed to take forever, and the gut-churning electronics pulverized my gastrointestinal equilibrium so relentlessly that after just three or four songs true nausea was setting in, and I started to feel like I might fall down in my tracks. I will always recommend the live Bloodyminded experience, but be warned, seeing them in a weakened state really is dangerous. When it finally ended I felt in no position to even watch one more band, let alone four, and here I had just driven myself to this godforsaken southside location with two other northsiders in tow, depending on me to get them back home several hours later when the show finally ended.....
Thus, the second act Paranoid Time, the one I hadn't really heard of, was the one I was most likely to skip in order to get some fresh air, and I would’ve too, if he hadn’t set up and started up so fast. Paranoid Time is the solo project by Scratch’n’Sniff label head Pat Yankee, and I had barely even managed to tell my passengers that I wasn't feeling too hot when he was all set up and hitting pedals and shit was coming out of the speakers, one of those ‘soundcheck becomes actual set in less than 1.5 seconds’ events. He was a good 10 seconds in before the synth-pop on the PA finally got killed. And the set was a fucking rager. Total rock’n’roll. Apparently there’s been some chatter about “wall noise” in relation to Paranoid Time but this was lurching, stuttering rumble and manic squall that clipped and fractured perfectly, with the low-end stuff being particularly nice. Not to mention that he would periodically kill the sound and shout something to rile up the audience (no microphone) and then dive right back into it as they shouted back. Two minutes in he stopped completely and yelled something like, “AM I CRAZY OR IS ANY OF THIS SHIT COMING THROUGH THOSE PA SPEAKERS AT ALL??" The crowd answered “NOOOOO” because even though they had been into it, the man was right, it wasn’t coming through the PA. A few seconds went by when someone tinkered with something somewhere, and when the noise came back it was DEFINITELY coming out of the PA, to roars of approval. He stopped one more time to shout “THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!” and it was off to the races. Whole thing lasted 7 glorious minutes or so. Totally killer, I forgot I was sick.
Next up was Lexington, Kentucky band Cadaver in Drag. Since they were actually gonna take more than 5 minutes to set up, I had a chance to walk to the cheap liquor store on the corner and buy some water. All they had were the small 12-ounce bottles, so I bought two, which immediately started to help, and I couldn’t miss Cadaver in Drag anyway because their new CD/LP Raw Child (on the Animal Disguise label) is fucking excellent, my introduction to the band, a bass/guitar/drums power trio presenting what is essentially a study of two heavyweight doom-sludge bass notes run through a churning psychedelic ringer for a good 30 minutes, cycled back and forth, first slowly (for 20 minutes) and then very quickly (for 10), accented by hefty screamo vocals and driven by a zoned-out band. The third and final track is a total cooldown, the shortest at 8 minutes, a sort of stately dirge fanfare/farewell with a few more notes than two, some played by Robert Beatty (Three Legged Race, Sick Hour) on his trademark elegaic synth. The lineup on this night was different, a five-piece featuring two guitarists (one of whom was Travis Shelton, key member of Warmer Milks, now recording solo as Nataraja) and none other than "Hive Mind" Holger on synth. They didn’t fulfill my Raw Child expectations -- the songs they played didn't seem nearly as focused, and the sound was totally muddy, but they did deliver a nice crazed city rathole vibe with all the lights out, a nice heaving audience pit, screams going down in the din, and a good 15-20 minute closing noise jam that just kind of started happening at some point and never stopped until the set was over.
And next was Mammal. One of the main reasons I came to this show was not only to see his set, but to pick up the double-vinyl version of Lonesome Drifter, the fantastic new album he was doing this short tour behind. I’ve already got the CD, as recently reviewed in these pages, but this is an album that is so clearly conceived as a double LP that I had no choice but to upgrade. It’s even a gatefold, with that great fantasy/loner cover art given full justice, and a lurking photo of the man and his milieu taking up the entire inside spread, all on awesome paper and with an excellent vinyl pressing… seriously, pick this thing up while you can. Of course, I wondered how he was going to pull off this album live….was he going to do the whole thing, beginning to end? Was he going to do any old stuff? Encore with “Keep It Live in 85,” perhaps? Or at least “Fog Walkers”? Nah, he came out all by himself with bass guitar, drum machine, and amplifier stack and opened with “Repulsion,” the first track on Drifter, and it sounded just as huge as it needed to. I still felt like shit, so I went and laid down on one of the crappy couches that lined the walls and melted into a semi-delirious quasi-intangible state, floating on these huge bass reverberations. I found myself immediately picturing "Repulsion" as not a song, but an entity cruising through the deepest and blackest space and I was right there with it. This was the best I felt all night. And for the record, he didn’t play the whole album. It was a pretty short set, and if I was judging correctly, he played three songs, none with vocals. I think the second was also from Drifter but I’m pretty the last one wasn’t, a little more ‘uptempo’ than anything on that album. Not sure about the details though, I was too transported.
And there was still one more band to play, the mighty Air Conditioning. They were in a tough spot, not being part of the Animal Disguise 'package tour' but playing last on a five-band bill anyway, to a potentially exhausted crowd. There was some chatter that they were exhausted themselves, in an especially road-weary state, and at one point earlier I did see the big guy Robert Jurgensen sitting with his head slumped down, looking like he felt worse than I did. But by the time they got their gear set up, the crowd was holding strong, perhaps hoping, as I was, to hear some of the amazing shit off of their Dead Rails album on Load Records, even after it became clear that they were going to be playing as a duo, sans drummer. Jurgensen handed out some pills, which a bunch of people gobbled up, even though they were just antibiotics (as I heard him explain to someone who asked). The smaller guy Matt Franco started strumming his guitar, playing actual nice-sounding 'fantasy' chords through a somewhat comical guitar synth type setting. As he kept strumming away, Jurgensen began to patiently subvert and destroy, his main tools being that killer bass you can see on the cover of Blastitude #18 (sporting only two extremely detuned strings) and a phalanx of pedals and electronics. He dug so deep into those two strings you wouldn't believe it, and the payoff just got bigger and bigger. Franco's chords eventually washed out completely into the thick granular rumble, at which point he began getting just as physical with his guitar as Jurgensen was with his bass, doing insane scything moves that pulled out correspondingly brutal high-end tones. As it built to a fever pitch, Jurgensen grabbed his weird modified mic and sang/screamed the shit out of something. And then they did the only thing that was left to do: end it. Unfortunately, they didn't just end the song, they ended the whole set. Now, I love short sets, and I was more than ready to go home, but I couldn't believe that was all they were gonna do. I still can't believe it. I want more.