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t r i a l s

wolf eyes/cotton museum/gremlins
7 february 2oo3
birmingham, michigan

my prediction that the bham police would shut this down was completely wrong. the event was well-supervised by adults, and no alcohol was in sight, so even when the colice did come, there was nothing for them to do. kudos to the gremlins for putting this together. they went over well with the high school crowd, i think they want to be weirder than they are, but they connected with some contemporary hard alternative rock grooves intermeshed with some noisemaking.

cotton museum put on probably the best set i have seen chris do. it is now available on cassette as "sick octopus basement" (and on video too). he managed to created a rippling fragmented bottom end almost beat foundation for his ultra-phased alien theremin frequencies over the top. the kids seem to dig it, in a little more restrained mode than for the other two bands (no moshing that i saw) but chris does a great job at moving the sounds around and he doesn't play all that long (about 2o minutes) so it went over well.

wolf eyes were as crazy as i have seen them yet. they alternately threatened the crowd & were threatened with being overrun by the over-capacity teens (plus a few older friends of the band). the innate violence and aggressiveness of their sound was reciprocated by the raving hormones of the audience. great moments of nate telling the crowd not to "freak out & fuck my shit up" only to have olson scream over & over "everybody freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaak out!". dilloway was in great form, playing a great guitar (with his foot) and even providing a mouth mic solo piece. unfortunately, the 3 sets of recording devices (2 digital cameras & a cassette) were overwhelmed by the spazzed effects, so the recorded evidence becomes indecipherable noise. which may be as it should be, since this was a very live happening, with the heat (i was totally drenched afterwards) & bodies flying in one of those moments of joy in noise. maybe the best representation of what wolf eyes is all about that i have seen to date.

japanther/rocket go now/happy supply
22 february 2oo3
detroit art space

this was a night of blizzardy snow & wind, so the scheduled appearance by olson/dillowhack damaged dudes didn't happen. i only had to drive down woodward, so i made it ok, especially since i really wanted to see japanther. happy supply pretty much held a live rehearsal, i dunno if they were originally scheduled or what, but they didn't seem all that together. they might be better another time, tho, as the minimal drums/distorted keyboard/throat lineup showed some promise.

japanther played next, and they lit the place up. i have to give them credit, even tho there was virtually no one there, they played their hearts off/asses out. amazing cassette backing tracks with one guy (ian?) jumping back & forth between front vocal duties (singing thru a telephone) and pounding the hell out of the drums. i was seriously impressed with his playing. the other member synched well with the backing tapes on fuzzy bass & operated the cassette player and also sang some thru a telephone. they have a unique variation on the lightning bolt format, and i was very impressed with how well they pulled off live a set of music that seemed to have its origins in the multitrack recording zone. their set made the trip thru the snowstorm absolutely worthwhile.

rocket go now went last, i was leery, after seeing the leggings, fur boots, outfit worn by one singer. they had a full lineup, two singers, bass, drums, at least one guitar, but when they played it all fell into that thrash em thing that just doesnt seem to me to require that many people. my fave part of the set was when pukey, the drunk kid did a kinda reverse stage dive & managed to bowl over the whole band. he was more entertaining than the wedding concept rgn were peddling, and a huge mess was made with cake thrown up in the air and an entire huge bag of rice thrown all over the art space. i really can't remember anything they played, i remember everyone in the band lurching into high speed instrument abuse, but the audible evidence was scant. i guess their girlfriends liked it tho, and that is what matters. i guess. my advice, for what it is worth: spend less time dressing up in front of the mirror, and more time listening to your sound.

paradise island/wildly different
24 february 2oo3
buddha bar, detroit

i was extremely happy to see the return of monday night goofball at the buddha bar, after the rumors of owner-unhappiness after the drumm/iovae/gutzeit show last month. wildly different featured viki & another woman i didn't recognise, doing some noise beats & vocalizing. very good-natured, very short, the crowd calling out for more, and them responding "but we don't have any more". not bad for an opener, but they seemed a little thrown-together.

paradise island was a disappointment, since erase errata has been so good when i have seen them, and jenny was involved, i think i wasn't alone in expecting more than the somewhat weak set presented here. again, it seemed like they maybe weren't really ready to be headlining even the very tiny show at the buddha. ironically, this show drew a larger crowd than the amazing kevin drumm show the previous month. this show suffered in comparison by being kinda offhand and under-prepared.

mommy won't wake up/midlife vacation
13 march 2oo3
detroit art space

very odd bill, with the gunter hampbel (sp?) trio, a jazz improv group, actually playing an earlier show with this one taking place awhile after. i strolled in (after staying home to watch the only sport that isn't fixed) in time to just miss them. sadly, most of the crowd left, too, so midlife vacation got to play one of those sets for the other people in bands that seem to occur all too often in detroit. does that happen elsewhere, too? midlife had evolved from the last show i saw them at (lj's lounge), with g.mammal playing bass & effects & l.viki providing the suitcase fullo beats & keys & fx. i wished they would have jumped right in as soon as the ght got done playing, so that their assault would have caused some more cringing, but i sat back and enjoyed some good noises. a coupla times during this set, they hit a really good noise place, sometimes they wandered a bit, but i think they are moving towards something that will realize the promise of a viki/mammal collaboration. i plan to see them again.

mommy wont wake up set up out in the front gallery area & that worked well for them, the room seemed less empty & they just did their very dynamic idio-savo rock music squirming under the boot-heel of a twisted group mind. they were a little more subdued than the last time i saw them, the drummer pretty much stayed in place, but then that could be attributed to a long night of other fun & games. they have a sax player who blows free sound over & under everything, a drummer who might be weasel walters evil clone, and the underwear lunatic & his attendant who alternate on noised-up keyboards and various bass/guitar axis arrangements. stumps-up to them for a sweet dessert treat set at the end of the night.

rattling wall collective/jim ryan/steve curtin/mutual hate society/will s./matt borghi
21 march 2oo3
otherwise gallery, lansing, mi.

the opener was some guy playing antique 78s & molesting a cheap gtr with pieces of metal, tabletop style... guess you had to be there. or not. mutual hate society (aka tracy peters) played a basket full of childrens sound-making toys thru a mic & strange effects... nice & abstract, a surprise considering the goth imagery on her web site. bonus points for actually dealing with matt borghi's proposed theme of acoustic sounds. this would fit in with a circuit-bender diy show, methinks.

steve curtin came next on hybrids of guitar & synthesizer, i am not near teknikal enuff to diagnose the tools, but the sound is a smoothish improv with washes of oscillator sounds affected by the 6 string. he followed that by some midi-pda (?) interaction kinda like an old player piano scroll or one of those wind up music boxes, only the sounds coming out were completely other.

next came jim ryan with an audience interactive composition with visual cues that scrolled (crawled?) along a monitor. the room was divided into two parts, and the cues indicated when one side or the other should make sounds like "shhhhh" or "chick chick" or "nnnnnn" or explosion sounds. we all did it twice, a little self-consciously inhibited, but a nice idea anyways, one that would be nice to see done better. how weird is this, the review is that the audiences performance was weak???

rattling wall collective did a nice acoustic set on 2 man vibes, horns, some strings, all acoustic (hmm... someone else knows how to follow directions) and demonstrating some considerable skill and their enjoyment of the performance. at one point they were playing each others mallets. seems like they are getting quieter, but more involved musically. definitely still a relatively unknown michigan group to watch for greater things from.

their was also an everyone-plays-at-once jam, always good for clearing the room. also, matt borghi had a laptop installation playing that i thought may have had something of a uber-processed xxx source material thing going. either that, or it is just my dirty mind, but i thought i heard some moans and saw big rubbery abstract buttocktic shapes in the chroma-damage. props to matt borghi for putting this show on, thanx matt.

burning star core/monotract/hair police/midlife vacation
21 march 2oo3
the old miami, detroit

so then i drive back into the m-city to the vietnam vet aura of the old miami. just as i arrived, midlife vacation were doing their "spring break" set, complete with slides and it was going over bigtime, they were in the groove, and laughing and the crowd was erupting as each slide was revealed. a huge improvement over the set at the detroit art sapce, obviously, a loose mood & some friendly out-of-town faces spurred a great performance.

hair police (now a 3 piece?) blew the place up, a lotta heat, burn victims, bruises, hard to pinpoint a specific, yeh playing guitar occasionally, again, an "on" night in comparison with the last time i saw these guys (at the cpop gallery). much better with a stage and major p.a. system & some liquid mood enhancers all around, major "spring break" attitude, all of the sonic aggressivenes made sense in this setting, instead of seeming out of place (an art gallery?). drummer sang/yahlled a lot, guitar was really loud and fncked up, tall joey ramon-ey looking guy was intense on synth-boxes and belt-pak.

monotract, i have an lp around here somewhere, very nice contrast, lots of korg kaoss effects, beats & noise with a distinctly latin killer applications, plus a very svelte young woman in the group. for once, the dance-fun-noise intersection worked for me, there seemed to be a righteous amount of sin & anarchy swirling around, unison voices, leads passed around, they look like they play a lot. highly recommended to take someone to without any warning.

burning star core was another contrast, more of a loud ambient (illbient?) noisy application of major effects by c. spencer yeh, seemed strange to see ppl in the crowd losing shirts & crashing around and into each other while yeh sawed a long violin improv piece or yowled into his headset and triggering huge dynamic synth sounds. major soundman failure of equipment left him screaming/moaning audibly without any processing, hero points to him for not missing a breath, but continuing on until all was fixed, seemed like a cutaway shot to the man behind the curtain. a powerful demonstration of the variety of skills these folks from the wastelands south of michigan have.

godspeed you! black emperor/black dice
26 march 2oo3
st. andrews, detroit

reviews forthcoming

forcefield/extreme animals/barkley's barnyard critters/kites/paperrad/mammal/viki
3o march 2oo3
totem tour, detroit contemporary

thanx to viki & mammal for pulling together a last-second detroit show for the totem tour 2oo3. alas, the detroit contemporary, while seemingly a choice venue, due to its desolate ultradetroit locale, doesn't seem to bring out the best in shows. viki played another great set to open, she was in that place where noises, beats & her singing hit me the way i prefer, maybe a little more noise-oriented, a little less playful dance stuff, just right here, kinda rough and mean-sounding and digging itself into your plexus.

after a break that was a tad long (considering sunday night, but then the badns were a bit tardy showing up, plus apparently lots of "incidents" may have been taking their toll), mammal played another one of his consistently enjoyable sets. so good that it kinda is irritating, so that the occasional equipment problems actually add a bit of unexpectedness to the well-done overloaded beats and reprocessed hairy noises. got to witness the return of the mammal mask, too.

next came some videos, by the time the end of the night came (for me) there were so many of them that it is hard to remember which was which. some were from the forcefield archives, a strange one with three knit-art clad figures standing with jagged cut/zoom effects causing eyestrain while some nice extended synth soundtracks played. another was the classic 13 monsters lightning bolt video. like i said, they all seemed to blur after awhile, so much, nowhere to sit, waiting for another band to play. lots of patterns, effects, some cut to the noise music, some wild or disconnected, all involving lots of work. i do videos, sometimes even as part of my job, and i had little idea of how they were doing much of what they did. might have been better to see them in a comfy chair tho, with my arm around... [editor: review terminated due to unpleasant off-topic fantasy imagery- in the interest of minimizing reader nausea].

kites played somewhere in there between a film & some videos, a different set than the one at lj's lounge earlier this year. add some melodic sounds to the stryations in white noise, extend the whole thing so that there is an increasing sense of anticipation for the forthcoming release, which comes in a sustained dog-torturing tone of sounds. i love to weave in among these and just bathe in them, always leaves me feeling cleaner afterwards. thanx kites.

the final exhibit, your honor, was brian gibson & friends in animal constumes accompanied by some preprogrammed music. they built a kinda elaborate set of painted cardboard objects, then proceeded to go nuts and destrroy everything, mostly themselves, trying to tempt the audience into jumping in, succeeding in getting one female member who was obvioulsy drunk enuff not to give a shite. i feared for the poor microphone & cable, the ladder, the bodies of the participants, but i saw no obvious bloodletting, tho as they stopped just before i left it was obvious that there would be some pain felt the next day. i am not sure what the intnet was, and again perhaps it was misplaced as a alcohol-fueled playground in an art gallery venue, maybe it would have worked better in a bar with an active crowd of willing co-participants. not a starter among the watcher of this sunday night dreading monday morning detroit crowd. i still don't know how much was barkley's, or how much was extreme animals, or some combination... does it matter? feel free to write & set me straight.

 ~ r e b e l   g r i s w o l d

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