Friday, October 16, 2009

Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt at Soundlab 10/14/09

Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt

Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt

Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt

Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt
I had white greasepaint on my jacket for months after this dude gave me a big hug.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Big Digits at Soundlab 6/27/09

Big Digits at Soundlab 6/27/09
This was such a ridiculously fun show. I had never heard of Big Digits until they came to Soundlab, and I'm really glad I decided to go check them out. I'm a total sucker for over the top, super energetic artists that are obviously having a great time.

Big Digits at Soundlab 6/27/09
Huge old school/low-fi laptop generated beats bounced under their rhymes, as they shouted each lyric while dancing and running across the stage (and eventually into the audience).

Bev Beverly w/Big DIgits 6/27/09
Earlier, local electronic artist Bev Beverly started the party, with some help from her never-ending bubble machine and guest vocals courtesy of Big Digits.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Team Robespierre at Soundlab 6/18/09

Team Robespierre

Team Robespierre

The camera is shaky on this one because the crowd and I were just rocking out too hard!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Narwhalz, Dogs and Leather

On April 23rd I arrived around at Soundlab around 11pm, right after Jack Topht and Lindey's set. I was a little disappointed, as I'm a pretty huge fan of theirs, but I'll catch them again the next time he plays around town. I chatted a bit with Mr. Topht about the music scene in Buffalo the mind boggling decision to put UB as far a way from the city as possible, leading to a downtown area that is struggling to survive and yet still vibrant with creative musical acts and visual artists. I can only imagine what it would be like if there was a steady stream of college students frequenting the many unique venues in the city.

First up was Narwhalz of Sound. Right way bonus points are awarded for Awesome Pun Based Name. He sat on the ground in front of three generations of Nintendo Gameboys - a classic brick, a color and an Advance - all of which were hooked into a mixer and run through a distortion pedal. After enthusiastically and cheerfully greeting the audience, he started declaring the wonders of "Indie Rock" and Saddle Creek. "Check out this fucking Saddle Creek Indie Bass Line about to hit!" he exclaimed as he started up one of the Gameboys and cheerful 8-Bit loop shot out from the speakers. He paused the music briefly and addressed the audience, "You feel that? I'm about to let that ride out for a second so you can all feel the independence..." Soon an array of lurching, grinding noises joined in and layed on top of the original loop. His set was great, it was essentially heavy ambient drone, but played with just the Gameboys all looping various tones. (It looked like he was using cartridges with music program ROM's.)

Narwhalz of Sound

I was enthused and impressed, and the crowd behind me was jamming to the bouncy noise. You can always count on the Sugar City kids to bring the party, and they fucking brought it with a basket of gusto. People were jamming to the beat, rocking out and busting crazy dance moves that were in no way in sync with the improvised music, but somehow meshed perfectly and created a great atmosphere. As the clusterfuck of 8-bit noise ground to it's climax, Narwhalz angrily threw the Gameboys, propelling them across the stage and declaring, "Fuck this shit! I don't even need any of this! I'm going home and I'm gonna learn how to play acoustic guitar! Because that's what indie rock is all about, guitars! And Piano! This isn't indie, I just fucking wasted all your time! " He then launched into a stream of consciousness satirical rant about the music industry, covering everything from K records ("I live at that guys old address, man, and soon enough I'm gonna start getting demos and cds in the mail! Yeah! I'll start my own label!") to how Belle and Sebastian suck even though recommends it when he's searching for Pavement records because he heard they were cool. The crowd was engaging him enthusiastically, laughing their asses off and throwing quips back his way. Russel and Zack, two regulars at any noise/experimental show, were particularly involved. There were discussions of the perils of the music industry and the responsibility of music critics, and upon discovering that Russel was a music critic he shouted "This guys a fucking writer! You're perpetuating the culture man!" This went on for a good ten minutes, at least.

Next up was DJ DogDick, who I had seen once before at the Baltimore Round Robin. His set there was much shorter and limited to some distorted noisy hipster experimental hiphop. At this show however, he had a chance to show some more range and get deeper into some soundscapes and really noisy shit. The first portion of his set was a sublime ocean of drone, he stood in front of a sampler and an array of electronics, carefully controlling the wide pulses and sparsely placed blips, all the while drifting his mic in front of a massive speaker cone (it looked like it was ripped form a gigantic amp wired it to be used separately). Each wave of the mic produced a sweeping roar of crunchy feedback, like an irate robot lion guarding it's territory. It was awesome and if I had a recording of it I'd listen to it every night.

From there he jumped into his more familiar style of fucked-up-indie-noise-hip-hop. Low-fi warbling tones danced over fat distorted beats while he rhymed into the mic. He faced away from the audience and awkwardly shifted on his feet, concentrating on working his sampler and gear. Occasionally, he'd find a moment to break from this monitoring and suddenly he would face the crowd and sway into a smooth rhythmic dance, only to shift his attention back to his gear moments later. This was by far the most danceable music all night, with the bass kicks hitting hard and loud, everyone was dancing as hard as they could. It was quite a sight to see as I nodded my head to the beat with a big grin on my face.

Sewn Leather was up last, and he just straight-up blew me the fuck away. I was dumbfounded by the intensity of his crunk/punk dance style and catchy hardcore rhymes over jacked up synth trash beats. He moved with the finesse of a backup dancer in a Madonna video and the sheer anger and intensity of a punk kid at a hardcore show. It was an amazing display of dancing, thrashing, jumping, and just plain FUN music. He had all the house lights turned off, so the venue was totally dark except for just enough ambient lighting to see the people around you and vaguely what was happening on stage. It created a great atmosphere, and made his crazy movements and mysterious dance style all the more intriguing.

Sewn Leather

At one point he ended up in the crowd, riding on the shoulders of an audience member (who I later realized was Narwhalz of Sound). He didn't just get down though, the crowd gathered around him to add support and carried him around a bit, as best as their crowd surfing abilities would allow. Later on a bunch of people jumped on stage and started dance-thrashing right along with him, creating a perfect moment of noise and chaos. This is why I go to shows. To witness music as art and just plain sheer sonic insanity. An amazing night.

Sewn Leather (riding Narwhalz of Sound)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"What's Good" at Soundlab

On April 15th, Alicia and I once again ventured out to Soundlab for a show featuring two of my favorite local artists. I've already written about both Cages and Sonorous Gale a few times, and I don't have much to add this time. They are both consistently awesome, and if you live in the Buffalo area I highly encourage you to check them out. Sonorous Gale will shatter your skull with pure rock brutality and Cages will change your life. Just ask the drummer for the North Carolina band What's Good, who said just that after seeing the versatile vocalist perform.

Her set this time was possibly my favorite, it was the perfect balance of fragile beauty and relentless chaos. She teamed up with Steve Baczkowski, who alternated between creating abstract sound textures using two turntables playing "Frankenstein" records (vinyl that has been cut into pie pieces, then glued back together to create a single record composed of 5 or more different albums) and blaring away on his saxophone. My favorite moments occurred when they both intensified their wailing in a battle to create a greater cacophony, before lapsing back into a quiet croon.

Cages - Soundlab 4/15/09

Cages - Soundlab 4/15/09

The previously mentioned "What's Good" played an excellent set of upbeat instrumental rock, overflowing with complex riffs, lightning fast solos and furiously dynamic drumming. Every so often the lead guitarist would suddenly dance across the stage, as if his feet were possessed by demons of funk. At one point he got so wrapped up in his playing that he collapsed backwards into the drum set! I've seen many guitarists intentionally catapult themselves into the drums at the end of a show, but I've never seen one who was just so focused on rocking out as hard and fast as he could that he completely lost his balance. Seriously awesome.

A band called Skeleton Breath also played that night, and while they were fun, (they had a guy rocking an electric violin who knew what he was doing) they didn't leave much of an impression on me. I've found that I don't really appreciate bands that have a technical excellence if they're lacking passion. You could be the best damn guitar based trio on the planet, but if you're not having a blast playing live and completely in love with performing, then it's just not going to be an interesting show. My favorite bands are the ones that enthusiastically enjoy what they do, it always shows and it's always inspiring. God damn I fucking love live music.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sonorous Gale Record Release Show

On March 21st Alicia and I ventured out to see Sonorous Gale play at Soundlab. I've seen them play several times before, they're one of my favorite local bands, with only the mighty Jack Topht above them. Their sound is one of thunderous bass and distortion, with heavy vocals over on alternately frantic riffs and painfully slow metal dirges. For a duo of a bassist/vocalist and drummer, they make one hell of a racket. Tonight was special because it was their album release party, so I could FINALLY get their songs in a form that could be listened to in the comfort of my own home.

The opening band was a guy with a huge beard playing soft songs on an acoustic guitar. That's really all I can was some harmless forgettable folk music with a twist of uppity poet. The second act was a comedian, who despite trying his best, fell a bit flat with most of his set. I give him major credit for giving it a shot though, plus there was a small group of people that were enjoying it and chuckling along, so there you go.

Sonorous Gale was great, as always. They played their familiar set of songs, many of which I know pretty well after having seen them several times. Midway through the set they were joined by local female vocalist Cages, who I've often described as sounding a bit like Bjork having a mental breakdown/total freakout on stage. (That's meant as a major compliment, she's awesome.) She was a lot of fun to watch during their cover of "Army of Me" (validating my Bjork comparisons)as she writhed and convulsed to the music while belting out the vocals in her unique, tortured style.

Sonorous Gale with Cages

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

AIDS Wolf at Soundlab

I missed them the last time they stopped in Buffalo, so I made sure to make my way out to Soundlab on March 8th to see AIDS Wolf. I was worried I'd be late, but when I arrived at 11 it was just in time to catch the end of the opening act, US Girls. Kind of like my noise moniker, this was a plural name representing one person.

The audience of roughly fifteen people stood around the front of the stage intently watching a shorthaired girl with massive hipster glasses and an over sized orange winter jacket as she hunched over an array of distortion pedals and sound gear. She would occasionally sing long, droning notes into a mic that would altering her voice while a wall of noise fought with looping guitar and piano samples. At first listen it sounded completely random, but soon I noticed the structure of the songs as she changed the loops and manipulated the gradually shifting tones being produced by her voice and equipment. It was pretty good stuff, right down my alley. I picked up her CD-R at the end of the show, mostly because I just like supporting artists that do this kind of thing...especially since I'm kind of attempting to make a name for myself by doing something very similar.

AIDS Wolf came out and proceeded to rock the house, decked in their matching brown shirts and slacks that resembled a repairman's uniform with a touch of the Ghostbuster getup. The lead singer, Claudia Deluxx, was decked out in a powerfully gaudy gem sweater and a flowing fluorescent green cape. The busted right into things, and played straight through their set, pausing only briefly between songs before exploding into the next one.

Their sound is an unclassifiable one...but I'm going to try anyway. If you take the ferocity of grind core, cross breed it with the focused and ungodly complicated atonal riffs of math metal, then blend the whole thing with a healthy dose of improvisational noise, you get pretty close to their sound. Throw in some warbling, indistinguishable vocals that sound like an oceanic siren having an aneurysm and you've got AIDS Wolf. To many, this is not something you'd listen to voluntarily. To me and the small group at Soundlab, it was a great show. It wasn't even the noisiest or harshest band performance I've seen, and I have to admit I was a tiny bit disappointed...I was expecting to be blown away by their insanity, yet they were a bit tamer than I had imagined.

AIDS Wolf 1

AIDS Wolf 5

It was interesting to watch the dual guitarists (the band has no bassist, two guitars plus drums and vocals) as they shredded away. The drummer was awesome, and as far as I've witnessed only Melt Banana's drummer rivals the intensity and speed that this guy had. They all had a very technical precision to their playing that resulted in the most discordant sound possible, just one of the reasons I admire them. The lead singer spent most of the show wandering through the audience as if entranced by her own howling, bumping into individuals and flailing in slow motion. With her hooded cape it almost looked like she was casting a long, complicated spell, as she waved her arms mysteriously and stared intently into the distance. Along with old school Boredoms (back when they were a straightup noise rock band) these guys are a favorite when it comes to ridiculous, noisy fun. I resisted the urge to buy any vinyl this time, but I did grab a $1 button. It's silver and black, with a drawing of a nerdy R.Crumb looking guy in thick glasses giving an unenthusiastic thumbs up. It's kind of awesome.

AIDS Wolf 2

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Good times.

Tonight I had bubblegum ice cream. For dinner. FUCK yeah.