Posted 04/15/2010 by cal
Outside of a bona fide music festival, pretty tough to top the eclectic
stew of music I was treated to last night. Maidens>Phantom
Family Halo>My Disco>Young Widows>Future
Rock. Pant, pant. It definitely left me with that festy-exhausted
but immensely happy and satisfied feeling.
at The Borg Ward was
Milwaukee's own Maidens, who seem to have no internet portal
whatsoever, but who were evidently in charge for the night. The Borg
Ward doesn't exactly have a "staff" per se. The band played some solid,
eardrum-ravaging hardcore, exactly what you'd expect for the opening
act at a Young Widows
Next act was not at all what you'd expect. Louisville's The Phantom Family Halo
started its set with a pulsing electronic loop and the drummer and
bassist gutterally whisper-singing some sort of spooky chant, and from
there things kept getting weirder. At times reminiscent of Liars' tribalism,
heavy doses of scattered post-rockisms, all filtered through a heavy
psychedelic lens. They'd take grooves almost to their breaking point,
then they'd bust into a killer riff and abandon it after just a taste,
really leaving you wanting more. Overall a fascinating blending of the
ghostly and the triumphant.
Australian noise merchants MY DISCO came out and
immediately tested the patience (and earplug resilience) of the audience
with an interminable high-speed noise jam that made me wonder if there
was actually a song at its root at all. But in the end, the intriguing
combination of finesse and abandon displayed by drummer Rohan Rebeiro
won me over, and after this first piece, guitarist Ben Andrews
began to systematically demolish the room. He plays with the oblivious
frenzy of Kurt Cobain during a set-ending demolition barrage,
definitely bringing to mind Thurston Moore and Neil Young
but with a particular adhesion to rhythmic stabs of feedback and rich
bluesy rock riffs acting as punctuation rather than the meat of the
songs. Exhilarating stuff, worthy of their namesake (a Big Black tune).
When Young Widows came out, they insisted that all lights be turned off;
some acrobatic audience members succeeded in unscrewing the single red
bulb after accidentally turning on the ceiling fan, and the Widows
played behind a stark white blaze at their feet. There were definitely
some new tunes from the recently-released string of split 6" records
that were almost instantly impossible to get ahold of, and as expected,
they were brilliant. Pretty much every song was a highlight, although I
suppose I particularly enjoyed what they did with "Swamped And
Agitated" (from Old Wounds, my pick for best
album of 2008). Drummer Jeremy McMonigle is quickly
becoming a next-generation Dale Crover.
The whole band operates with a frightening efficiency, yet they're not
afraid to stretch out, and the power they kick out is off the gauge,
even though they don't feel the need to pummel you with quite the volume
level of the two noisier bands of the night. This is seriously one of
the best bands in the country, here in the dingy confines of our beloved
Brew City punk rock club, rocking the faces off maybe forty people who
are in on the secret. Forty minutes, no encore, absolute perfection.
From what I understand, I missed another incredible up-and-comer, Papadosio, who opened the
night's festivities at The Miramar.
Reports from those in attendance were dazzling, so I'm gung-ho on
catching the group next time. I imagine Future Rock was beginning
its set right about the time I walked out of the Borg Ward and hopped in
my car; I only missed the first two songs of the set in transit. The
room was packed with googly-eyed, glow-sticked kids, and I took a good
ten minutes to decompress out of punk rock mode. At first I wasn't sure
if I could make the transition, honestly. But the energy in that room
was impossible to resist.
I saw Future Rock once before, a daytime slot at Summer
Camp last year, and it was a fun romp, high energy for an early
festival set but kinda sloppy, with nothing to really set it apart from
the basic electrojam formula. Here at the Miramar we had the band in
its natural habitat, after midnight in a dry ice factory and frickin'
lasers, and they killed it.
For one thing, either bassist Felix Moreno was super hung over
(or still hammered) at Summer Camp, or he has just been practicing his
ass off for the past ten months, because he was amazing. There's no
guitar player up there, so he's got to handle the entire string load,
and while most bass players in this genre are content to drive the beat
along, Moreno incorporates Claypool-style picking and slapping,
melodic runs that are propulsive but can also stand out as spotlight
leads. He has really tightened up; it's not just the speed or
complexity of his playing, but the stamina of keeping up a percussive
lead the way he does for a long section of a jam is just impressive in
its own right.
The show was exactly what you'd hope: nonstop dance party, well-executed
builds and peaks over and over again. I felt like I was back at a
mid-90s rave (um, sorry, party; that word's just not specific
enough, though) and the DJ was on fire. Light show was not extravagant
but it was tasteful, well-synched, and it augmented the music very well.
Ending the show with their glitch-punk cover of Nirvana's
"Breed" was delicious; aaaah, yeah, this I remember being my
favorite part of that Summer Camp set. I can't name any of FR's songs,
can't even find a setlist online, so all I can say is there wasn't
really a dull moment, and "Breed" wasn't even my favorite part. I just
went from "yeah, that band has potential, might check them out next time
they come around" to "holy crap, can't wait to get in on that explosion
of energy again". Then again, there's always something to be said for
catching the tour-closer; whatever the case, they made some new fanatics
at this show.