Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lightning Bolt - "Dracula Mountain" from the CD Wonderful Rainbow

Going to see Lightning Bolt at fabulous Churchill's Hideaway tonight.

While it's always good to get out and drink some English beer (maybe I'll even smoke a cigarette or two), I'm not that psyched, I'm finding, somewhat to my own surprise.

Lightning Bolt--a School of Design drum and bass duo who play oddly tuned noise rock at near-deafening volume--are certainly conceptually audacious, and certainly have an innate appeal to me for that very reason. That the bassist has recently taken to playing a five-string bass, or that the band often plays offstage, amongst, and in the midst of, their audience, can only score them additional points with me.

And the Wikpedia article certainly gushes forth.

But at a certain point, you know, you've gotta drop something more than mere audacious concept. Not that I've heard a great deal of Lightning Bolt, but most of what I have heard is kind of inchoate. The song I present for download is quite the jam, I like it very much, the bass and the drums alternating like machine gun fire, or, even better, like Murph and Barlow without the Mascis, yet to this date, it's the only Lightning Bolt song that I've really come to love.*

On the other hand, the band has quite the live reputation, and what the hell, I've been hankering to attend a show, why not tonight?

So we'll see. I was always lukewarm to Oxes until I saw them one night at the Polish American Club; maybe Lightning Bolt will be critically uplifted for me in a similar way.

If I can, I'll come back over the next couple days and post a comment about what the show was like.

Lightning Bolt - Wonderful Rainbow - 03 - Dracula Mountain.mp3

File under: Noise rock

*Although I'd have to guess "St. Jacques" and "Nation of Boar" are pretty good, if not great (Return)

1 comment:

rastronomicals said...

INTENSE show. Cerveza's wife Stacey said it was tribal, and the word had occurred to me as well. The band did indeed play at ground level, which made seeing the band kind of difficult--maybe that one's an idea that sounds better than it really is.

But Cerveza and his wife and I had found a spot against a big-screen TV and had staked claim to a wooden stool, initially by placing our pitchers of Bass ale on it.

Then when Lightning Bolt began to play, we took turns standing on the stool, so that we could look over the pulsating throng crowding around the band, who had precious little room to play.

At one point some mosher in his abandon disconnected Brian Gibson's bass plug from his amp; things were that tightly packed. Crowd surfing went on throughout, and when people weren't outright skanking, they were sort of pogoing up and down in place.

Hotter than hell. One of the best things about when it was my turn to stand on the chair was that I could get a full supply of oxygen.

I told Cerveza about the time I saw Living Color back in the day, when they booked the tour before, but played after, "Cult of Personality" hit on MTV. And also about the time I saw The Smashing Pumpkins at Club Beirut, which could hold about 50 people comfortably. Don't know if Lightning Bolt was as hot or as crowded as those shows, but it was plenty crowded and plenty hot enough.

Cerveza said that he was amazed that only two people could make such a racket, and I'm sure as fuck down with that. I'd have loved to see Gibson's pedal board--there was a ton of shit going on. Even when the band wasn't playing their instruments, you could hear amplifier hum feeding back in infinite delay, cyclical sound that the band used as their palette. And then the noises that the guy was able to coax from his bass were all over the spectrum, squeaks and scratches, fuzz and BABOOM, wah-wah and flux. All over the place.

I labeled Lightning Bolt noise rock, but really, they're a groove band. Brian Chippendale's drums work off Gibson's bass and vice versa, most often like an alternating current, which is what I meant when I was talking about Dinosaur Jr.'s rhythm section above--Murph and Barlow work the same way, filling in each other's spaces back and forth you hit I hit you hit, etc., etc.

The problem is that while when they hit their groove, and then thrash it to smithereens, everybody goes apeshit, sometimes--too much of the time, really--they're just searching for it. You could tell when that happened, 'cause that's when the pogoing and the skanking stopped, even if the crowd surfing never did.

They played "Dracula Mountain," too, either second to last or last, depending on whether the freeform jam that followed was a song or not. It seemed like their best song at the show, too.

I loved the intensity of the show and I really enjoyed watching the kids go nuts. I'm totally glad I went out to see them. After the show Cerveza and Stacey and I hung out for a bit and I was feeling euphoric the way you do after all great shows.

But in the end, despite the intensity, despite the sweat and the flying bodies, despite the screeching and the wonderful fuzz, I can't help but wish Lightning Bolt found their groove more often . . . .