White Drugs / Puffy Areolas / Kaboom Live at RGRS 8/19/10
This I was looking forward to mainly for the set by Ohio noise psych punks, Puffy Areolas. Their In the Army 81 (Siltbreeze) is a real humdinger in the hxc skree scene and one of my favorite platters of '10.
Friends and I convened at Snuffers on Lower Greenville for a burger and fries before we headed up the road to Denton and RGRS. Interestingly, this was the first venue I'd ever attended with my good pal, Travis, in town for a couple days along with his girlfriend, Tara. Travis remarked on how things seemed to have come full circle and he was right. Only real difference was we were all hairier now and the previous gig we'd attended at this place some 7 + years ago was no good (Octopus Project/snore/wince). Enjoyed retelling a recollection of my one and only encounter with said club's proprietor, which I won't go into here. Ask me sometime in the great out and about and I just might.
First up was Kaboom, one of them noise punker sort'a groups that mixes a healthy dose of aggro angularity with gallons of ball sweat and mean riffs. Like headliner White Drugs, Kaboom is all herky-jerky with the stop-start rhythms and tough guy vocals designed to kick out the jams as much as intimidate the wimpier segments of the audience. Not bad, far from life-changing.
The Puffy Areolas did not disappoint. Their vibe is one of blaring, screeching punk rock cacophony. Bands that come to mind during their set: Wire, MC5, The Stooges and Comets on Fire to name a few. Hawkwind and Krautrock also popped in the cranial space, but that's probably more a reflection of my own fixations. What matters here is the quality of the songs, and there truly isn't a stinker in the bunch. 40 mins/5 songs of furious screaming real rock for the anti-masses that leave an indelible impression and far transcend any possible Nowave/Krautrock trappings. Sometimes originality is just a matter of turning the amps up to 11 and completely meaning every second. The Puffy Areolas are the shit. Believe every word.
From here there's really only one way to go. White Drugs plays a tight set that draws from their debut album on Amphetamine Reptile (remember that label?). Their short, choppy bass-heavy sludge punk reminds me of classics in the genre, including The Jesus Lizard and Tar, but it somehow feels almost limited after the infinity squalls offered up minutes before. Or maybe my head was still too high up in the stratosphere to properly appreciate their down 'n' dirty noise punk sound. 10 years ago I'd have been all over it. Still, all in all it was a wonderful night spent among friends -- new and old -- and even though we narrowly avoided legal troubles on the way home (got pulled over and promptly sent on our merry way), it was one of those nights where everything seemed to go just right. Glad T & T were there to see it too.
Fat Worm of Error / Zanzibar Snails / Depths Live at The Leisure Womb 8/21/10
This gig marks the arrival of yet another new venue for house shows in the North Texas area, this time on the edge of Ft. Worth. It's a big place...comfy. When I arrived to The Womb there was boxed wine and five large pizzas sprawled out across the kitchen. Saw some of me m8s (none of which had made it out for the Puffies two days before -- bad m8s) and stumbled into the performance space/bedroom just in time for the Zanzibar Snails' trio set (arrived too late for duo Depths), which offered up an undulating soundbath that spiraled through the industrial/drone/noise multiverse with intergalactic grace. Rising tonal tides brush up against distant clarinet, radio crackle and low end guitar groan. Was really struck by Nevada Hill's work on guitar here, alternating between almost doom to more lowercase hum and crackle straight out of the Kevin Drumm handbook (got the 2LP reissue of his self titled on Thin Wrist? Got mine), but every member (including Michael Chamy and Nick Cabrera) brings something compelling to the table. Hope they recorded it. Hope they release it.
Then it was time for the one, the only...Fat Worm of Error. The Massachusetts art skuzz unit has been thrashing around making a racket for years now, and they seem to have evolved from a more formless experimental approach to full on rawk bombast. Either way, this show was my first proper introduction to their sonic delirium. As they insisted, we got off our duffs and got ready to lobster walk to their post Troutmask Replica squawking. Stand we did and rocked we were for a good hour of intense spindly string bending and lurching rhythms through the broken Dadaist void. I was reminded at different points of Henry Cow, King Crimson, Sonic Youth, Beefheart, The Residents (who I've barely heard at all, but why not, since Fat Worm's singer is prone to donning ridiculous costumes from song to song). All in all, the quintet managed the seemingly impossible task of being fierce, heavy, weird, experimental, ridiculous and non boring to great effect. Even better was hanging out afterwards and watching members of the band and audience break into impromptu musical revelries on the player organ in the middle of the dining room. I actually sort of live for nights like this one. Thanks, Fat Worm and The Gang for making it possible.