However, does this discredit my words? I doubt it. The reason why I happen to know the people in the bands which played on this particular night is because their bands are good. As often happens, I saw the bands first and then I made their acquaintances later. When I see groups I like, I cannot help but to get personally involved with them. I would be a fool not to. Good music is hard to find, and more often than not the quality of one's music directly reflects upon the nature of one's personality.
Just because I am friendly with someone does not mean I like or endorse their band. Quite the opposite: I am not easily impressed and I don't need to suck up to anybody for any reason. There are plenty of friends' bands I neither like or will promote, just as I'm sure I have many friends who would rather eat cat turds than hear mine. I really gain nothing personally by writing a positive review of this event. There is no payola involved and no one here will become an instant star from this piddly review. The event is over and I'm sure this particular mixture of bands may never grace the same stage again. This piece is purely for the sake of documentation and I hope the reader is imparted with a flavor of the entire context surrounding it. Like it, or lump it as you wish, but here it comes.
This show took place at Public Assembly, in Brooklyn . . .
|Kevin Barry - White Suns|
|Rick Visser - White Suns|
|Dana Matthiessen - White Suns|
|Litte Women do some serious male bonding: left to right: Jason Nazary, |
Travis LaPlante, Andrew Smiley. not shown: Darius Jones
There's an ominous air of ritual as group began this evening with no fanfare, the four facing each other in a square formation, holding hands silently. I'm absolutely sure this made most of the audience uncomfortable. The band played this gambit completely poker-faced, so those looking for an ironic wink didn't get one; the full intent of this action remained ambiguous. The intensely inward focus of the players on each other's sounds and channeling of emotions seems to openly exclude the audience to a large degree. Perhaps art should occasionally be about the quality of the end result, and not whether or not everybody in the audience is made to feel special and included in the process? Fine with me. The group operates outside of the conventional mores of performance style in the underground rock scene. They don't play into microphones. The saxophonists tend to move around the space, directed by unseen forces of suggestion. They aren't terribly interested in "bringing it" the way that most people expect: the new piece presents long stretches of transparent, porous improvisation, many times interrupted by sharp, loud fragments before entering slightly different, but similarly diffuse sound areas. The insularity of Little Women's presentation can, and probably will be misconstrued as sanctimonious or pretentious, but I believe their current work is strongly in development, clearly at constant risk of misfire. When they're hot, they're hot, and when they're not, it can be excruciating. They are clearly more interested in seeing what they can do beyond the ordinary than caring about what people (like myself) think. The kind of freedom they are seeking is not based on following a predictable template and their journey outward is earnest and carried forth with much consideration. I think the music scene needs more bands challenging the conventions and expectations of the audience while delivering carefully crafted presentations, so whether or not I loved this performance is beside the point. If you check out Little Women, you might be nauseated or blown away, but you will not be apathetic.
|Charlie Looker of Extra Life|
Charlie Looker's songwriting vehicle Extra Life has been around a while, now slimmed down to a compact trio formation of drums, guitar and keyboards. The brisk minimalism of the ensemble actually heightens the gothic bombast of Looker's starkly angular compositions. The songs are pure psychodrama, propelled forcefully by the powerful mechanical drumming of Nick Podgurski. Intriguing harmonic modulations and off-kilter metric shifts dominate the music, but it also resounds with a keen '80s new-wave timbral familiarity, vis a vis the dramatic vocals and chorused guitar/synth tones. Could Extra Life be the unholy matrimony of Prog and Morrissey? Possibly, but a flippant blanket statement like that does no justice to how serious and ambitious this group is. I have seen these guys a handful of times this year and each performance has been great. Particularly gripping is the very long and deathly slow number they've been ending their sets with - it is a Swans-like masterwork of gradual build and tension. During this dramatic set closer, the protagonist repeatedly faces "The Beast", and the entire setting constantly evokes for me the sexual horror of Andrzej Zulawski's mindboggling 1981 film "Possession", where a couple are reunited, only to reveal that the wife is getting regularly fucked sideways by a slimy octopus like demon/subconscious manifestation . . . if you don't know it, trust me on this one, folks!
|Satanized: before . . .|
- Weasel Walter, 11.2.11