Friday, December 01, 2006
See Scott sing / N6 prog hang / P-Fork dilettanting
so there are only a few All videos on YouTube. (what, you were hoping i was going to stop writing about pop-punk?) fortunately one is for the heart-destroying "Scary Sad," which i discussed below. this clip drives home the point even more that Scott Reynolds is not kidding around; the dude is singing about his drummer's psycho ex while people mosh a foot from his nose and he looks completely unself-conscious. how in god's name is he hitting every one of these notes? you move in mysterious ways, Scott Reynolds, but i like it--i like it!
saw a really, really nice quadruple bill at Northsix last night, that being Time of Orchids, Blind Idiot God, Dysrhythmia and Zs. if there was any justice in this fair city, there would've been a line out the door, but instead we got a pretty sparse, though very appreciative crowd.
one thing i kept thinking was how much i love Northsix and how sad i am that it's being taken over by those Bowery Presents people. i'm not interested in Northsix--which has made a habit of booking plenty of fringey, heavy and experimental acts among its regular crop of biggish indie-rockers--becoming just another temple to boring-ass, middle-of-the-road, Pitchfork-approved indie rock. clubs like Bowery Ballrom and Mercury Lounge sound good and are nice to attend and all that, but i feel like they're spineless, molded by the community they serve rather than advancing any sort of aesthetic values. Northsix on the other hand, will book a sure thing like TV on the Radio and then go and do some Anal Cunt and Hirax shit the next night.
not to mention the awesome downstairs shows, which have often felt strangely close to basement hardcore shows at times. i'll never forget 8/2/03, when Stay Fucked played down there with three bands we'd never heard of, Time of Orchids, Friendly Bears and Behold... the Arctopus (only their second show ever!), all of whom totally blew us away and became our good pals.
anyway, last night's show was sorta like an upstairs version of that kind of a thing, with very much a community (MathProg Anonymous) vibe. Time of Orchids opened and they continue to impress me. for one, they seem to always be playing new music at shows, even though they play out a lot. more importantly, their music is completely ungeneric; even though they're part of the aforementioned math-rocker scene and bear traces of that influence in their music, they're just as happy to keep it atmospheric, slow and spacious and they do a really good job of that. these guys have been at it forever and won't stop--they're one of those bands that clearly loves their own music and it's surprising how that's rarely something you can take for granted.
Blind Idiot God i was kind of iffy on. i feel like they're revered for having done a lot of this math-rock stuff first and for having been on SST and for having worked with Zorn and Laswell and for their badass name--namely for a lot of reasons other than that people actually enjoy listening to their records. there are some savage, awesome moments on those early discs, but for the most part, they don't really come together for me. i like the idea of them much more than i like the actual songs, and i sorta felt the same about last night's set.
the band, which now includes ex-Khanate drummer Tim Wyskida, was surrounded by mountains of amps and expensive looking racks and all that stuff. they sounded very tight and engaged and together, but to me, the music just has this strange lack of momentum. at one point Andy Hawkins seemed to be playing a guitar line that was totally independent of the rhythm section--not complementary or contradictory, just like irrespective of or something--and it actually made for this kind of cool effect. but i just kept wanted the band to kick it out a little more. their songs have these really slamming parts that you want to last and then they sort of peter out into stop time or something. i admire the experimental impulse, but i find that i'm frustrated more than challenged. i definitely need to give those records another spin at some point though because there are good songs happening there.
Dysrhythmia on the other hand completely owned, like absolutely destroyed the place. talk about dudes enjoying their own music, bassist Colin Marston and guitarist Kevin Hufnagel jump around and rock out at an intensely high level throughout every one of their sets--these dudes are just having a blast with this music. tightness is like a foregone conclusion for them--no one in the bands fucks up. ever. and the music is just very classy math-prog that makes you want to jump around and dance and groove and whatnot. i feel like they're definitely a band that you don't have to enjoy the genre at large in order to get--it's just fast, loud, fun, virtuosic, etc. (one thing is i wish they would play this one song "My Relationship" in their sets and they never seem to! it's from their last album, "Pretest," which isn't as heavy or complex or brutal as the new stuff but has some really gorgeous, almost fusiony hooks all the same.)
Zs. yeah, it was fucking Zs, batting cleanup and grand-slamming as usual. i could watch Ian Antonio drum all night--scary precision, scary concentration, scary hitting force. when he smacks the floor tom for the first time after having laid waste to snare and hi-hat for like eight minutes straight during the intro to the new Zs set, it seems like a globally significant event. chalk that up to Zs' knack for tension-building, but also to Antonio's utter conviction in the act of striking drums with sticks. sound mix was much better here than at BAM, and they played on the floor which was pretty badass. read my thoughts on the content of the current Zs set here.
so a badass set and a perfect end to a rad time amongst friends and colleagues in math.
one thing i wanted to add on the Northsix-loving tip is that that red curtain behind the stage is totally elegant, as if you're at the theater or at a mutant jumbo-sized version of Tonic. i will miss this place. i'll leave you with another ecstatic N6 moment, which was my first time seeing Hella. i was pleasantly stoned but a little skeptical. when they started, though, my eyes went boioioioioing. shit was so fucked up. i feel bad for any of you who have not seen Zach Hill play old, good Hella songs up close--it's one of those "is this thing human?" moments that are basically reason alone to keep up on developments in insanely technical music. anyway, thx N6 for that and also for letting Stay Fucked open for the Fucking Champs that time.
yay, USA Is a Monster got a lukewarm review on Pitchfork today. don't you love how that site likes to throw impossibly belated, tokenistic bones to musical genres it could give two shits about? this album came out two months ago. i know because i reviewed it at that time. it's not even the review itself that bothers me--i love the record, but i may have been a hair too glowing in my assessment (hey, that's the kind of dude i am--call me Glo-Worm). it's more a lazy and irresponsible attitude toward anything that's not indie rock. for that genre, fine, listen to Pitchfork, i don't give a shit. but i cannot stand it when they tokenistically trot out a review of the new Miles Davis box or the new Matthew Shipp record or the new Isis record in a totally untimely fashion. yet the people reading the damn site propbably don't know any better and think that you should actually listen to the Pitchfork writers talk about anything other than their obvious bread and butter, which is indie rock.
Isis record was reviewed yesterday. it only came out a month ago, but still that's WAY TOO LONG for a media outlet that prides itself on currency to wait to write about this thing. let's get one thing straight: i am not an Isis fan; i find their music boring and tedious. but nevertheless i will concede that they are an important band--at least in terms of influence and audience and all that stuff--within the heavy-music community and they deserve the respect of a timely review. if you can't give them that, than leave it to the people who care about metal, like Decibel or whoever, to do it. and keep the hell away from jazz while you're at it because you don't get it.
to get an idea of how silly it is for that Isis review to show up in late November, think about if the Joanna Newsom review, which of course ran on (give or take a day or so) the release date, instead ran in mid-December. that would be ludicrous b/c Pitchfork thrives on fancying itself the first and last word on major indie-rock releases. if a site that actually cares about metal didn't review the new Isis upon its release, it would be shunned; Pitchfork should either quit trying to diversify (it'll never happen, guys) or get serious about non-indie-rock music.
phew, didn't see that one coming...