Friday, August 20, 2010

The Reader on Tomorrow's Show

From the Reader

Critic's Choice
A Frames, Headache City, Bloodyminded
Sat., Aug. 21, 10 p.m.
Rock, Pop, Etc

In the 2020s and beyond, assuming civilization and the biosphere both hold up, it's a sure bet hipster kids will be getting nostalgic about the turn of the millennium, raiding it for musical inspiration and kitschy thrift-store fashion ideas. With any luck the more intelligent among them will recognize that Seattle's A Frames best captured—in a beautifully covert way—the paranoid schizophrenia of those years closest to 9/11. While the emo bands of the time whined their relatively privileged lives away, the A Frames built meaty metaphors, using surveillance cameras, hostage crises, electric eyes, and spy satellites to talk about the human condition. Their wired, wiry music combines the herky-jerky robot beats of Joy Division with the alien guitar skree of Stickmen With Rayguns, then deconstruct those influences so radically that the results transcend comparison—you get the sense these songs might've begun as rather accessible, conventionally structured pop, but like Steve Martin early in his stand-up career, the A Frames have methodically stripped away all traces of unoriginality from their material. Their latest release, a 42-song triple-LP retrospective of singles, demos, and rarities called 333 (S.S. Records), proves just how consistently they've succeeded. It also proves that drummer Lars Finberg (who left in 2006 to devote his full creative energies to the Intelligence) did a great deal to push the A Frames away from standard rock rhythms—what Captain Beefheart dismissively called the "mama heartbeat"—and toward something much more brutally hypnotic. Newer bands like Tyvek, who play similarly deconstructed post-post-postpunk to similar effect, owe big debts to these guys. Tonight's show is not only a rare opportunity to see the A Frames—they've been pretty quiet since 2005's Black Forest—but also the debut of the resuscitated Headache City. Formerly local, they played their not-actually-final show in late 2008; since then co-front men Mike Fitzpatrick and Dave Head have both moved to New York, Fitzpatrick to Ithaca and Head to NYC. Their second LP, We Can't Have Anything Nice, came out on P. Trash in spring 2009, while the band was inactive, and this year they started writing songs together again with an eye toward a third record. They're looking for a permanent drummer, but for this gig they'll play old material with their old drummer, Lisa Roe of CoCoComa. —Brian Costello