The Joy of Violent Movement LIVE SHOW REVIEW
Posted Friday, June 3rd, 2011 at 7:33 pm
Yuppies, The Whines, Home Blitz and White Mystery
Death by Audio
May 20, 2011
Hidden in a somewhat remote part of the abandoned remains of industrial Williamsburg that’s within feet of the East River, Death by Audio is an extremely barebones venue housed in an abandoned office space. You actually can tell from the fluorescent lighting and the paneling in the ceiling. And when I first walked into the venue, while covering several experimental techno actsincluding Teengirl Fantasy, for New York Magazine’s Vulture blog, I immediately fell in love with the venue because when the music actually started it became dark, sweaty and illicit – anything felt possible, anything felt like it could happen, and that is frankly, exciting. I heard and saw things I hadn’t heard before, including one DJ act who started lighting money on fire, a gigantic, preening queen who sang a song with a lyric which suspiciously sounded like “I want to fuck your face” and techno that undulated through the room with raw anger, sex, violence, excessive and incorrigible behavior. What I will say is that after Teengirl Fantasy finished their set, I walked out of the venue and on to South 2nd Street with my blood throbbing – it had sincerely been a while since I had gone to a show and had such a visceral reaction. And as you all know, I wind up going to a lot of shows both professionally and as a fan.
So when I found out that the Chicago-based, garage blues duo White Mystery not only had about a week’s worth of shows in the New York City area, but that they had a gig at Death by Audio, a couple of weeks ago, I just had to check them out live. Plus, it seemed to be the perfect fit for their raw, almost completely unadorned, noisy sound. Since I saw several bands and want to throw out some comments on them before paying more a bit more attention to the band I was there to cover in the first place, White Mystery. So as a matter of formatting dear reader, be prepared for the handy dandy series of bullet points. (Also as some editorial disclosure, I’m assuming the pictures and comments for the first three bands are for who I’m saying they are as I don’t remember anyone actually announcing themselves – besides White Mystery who I was familiar with anyway. That is of course, another story.)
· Yuppies: The first band that I managed to catch were an aggressively, noisy screamo rock quartet from somewhere in the Midwest, if I’m not mistaken. For some reason I want to sayOmaha, Nebraska but I’m probably disastrously wrong. Sonically, they seemed to quickly alternate between a chaotic, droning, fuzzy and muddy mess and appropriately grungy, recognizable (albeit, maybe a bit stereotypical) punk rock. Songs seemed to teeter-totter on that thin line of musicality and indecipherable bullshit – all while containing a thin thread of something that was reminiscent of cracked 60s garage bands. I can say that I haven’t quite heard anything like that before. But whether or not that was a good thing – well, I don’t know. What I will say is that early on in their set, their sound was kind of cathartic, and even sort of envelope pushing. But despite the amazing energy level the quartet brought to their set, I found myself getting kind of bored – their material quickly became grating.
· The Whines: If I’m not mistaken, they were one of the several bands on the bill who had some connection to the Midwest. This trio was lead by a lead singer who was adorable. She kind of looked like the girl next door to your independent record/bookstore/café in the artsy part of town. In any case, their sound had a remarkable similarity to a band such as Silversun Pickups – a sort of swooning, dizzying buzz but with bit a stoner’s sense of humor. With that in mind there was one inadvertently funny moment in their set: at one point there was some kind of confusion over how much time they had left in their set. And in fact, their set kind of ended abruptly – with an awkward giggle.
· Home Blitz: During the Yuppies set, I had lit a Romeo y Julieta cigar inside and was smoking while taking photos – an act which turned out to be much more difficult than anticipated at times but I managed. In any case, at one point during the set, I had moved towards the back to chat with a friend who had come along with me when a man approached me and wanted to take aniPhone photo of me smoking my cigar. Apparently, from what I was able to figure out, he was impressed, amazed or perhaps even confused by what I was doing. So I posed for this picture, not knowing who was taking it, why they were taking or where it would end up. And interestingly enough, the guy who wound up taking my picture was Home Blitz’s bassist. Their sound was occasionally a tinny, buzzing mess that kind of sounded like the perfect background music at the old Lower East Side coffee shop, Alt Coffee or at Cake Shop.
And last but not least, our band of the day, White Mystery. Live their sound was messier, noisier and more muscular and seemingly larger than on their records. There are several consistent things between their albums and their live stage show – the very lovely Alex White really thrashes at that guitar and her brother Francis bashes and punishes the shit out of his drum kit. It ain’t subtle in the least bit but in its simplicity it’s powerful. And like I mentioned in my review of their latest album, Blood and Venom, Miss White is an undeniable force. Live like on the album, she won’t allow you ignore her. Interestingly, I think their albums only capture a portion – luckily, a significant portion – of the energy that you’d see at a live show. Seemingly primal with a cracked, manic sort of glee, Alex White seems to growl, stomp and roll around on the stage while her brother Alex, with limbs akimbo is a bit reminiscent of the beloved Animal from the Muppets. Sure, a funny image but picture two bobbing masses of red hair all over the place and you’ll probably see why that came to mind. For lack of a polite phrase, they were fucking impressive.
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