A bunch of memories of a week's worth of shows

Stopped by the Knockout last night and caught the last 10 minutes of the Weasel Walter Trio. Sounded just like them. Gruntfest on alto sax playing a lot wailing altissimo shit, as usual. I think he's my favorite of the rotating saxophonists that play with the group, but even he has a strong tendency to play notes (listen to Ettrick to hear my preferred alternate approach). I came in pretty late and these guys were pretty much soaked in sweat. Some shit had gone down. They told me the end was the best part, but I would have appreciated it more had I seen the build-up. Damon showed me his oozing poison oak welts but said they didn't affect his playing. Check them out Friday night when Weasel Walter's Cellular Chaos plays with Flaming Horse at 21 Grand.

Tuesday at 21 Grand I saw the Gowns. Their new album, Red State, is pretty fucking great. I think it's probably my most listened-to album of 2007. Pushed Willie Nelson right off the charts. Anyway, it was really cool to see those songs performed live. I enjoyed the addition of live drums spanning the range from scraping and rattling to awkward polyrhythms to hard rocking. One or two songs weren't as dense as the album, but I think that was due to equipment/PA trouble. I'm trying to think of a highlight and all that comes to mind is the intro of one of the songs where Erika played a guitar line, then her looping pedal played it backwards, in which form it fit even better with the rest of the music. They're about to go on tour, so go hear them if you live somewhere other than the Bay Area, and buy their album wherever you may be.

Marnie Stern sounded like a poorly mixed indie rock CD being played too loudly. In fact, that's what it was. Barr was indie rock too... I can't get into that stuff, but evidently a lot of people can. 21 Grand was packed, and it was a damn Tuesday night. Had to leave before Old Time Relijun started, but I heard a second or two of good throat singing in their sound check.

Sergio Iglesias & the 69 Beers, Sunday at the Knockout, was complete stupidity, as usual. I can't say objectively whether it was funny or not. My bootleg recording sounds like a big mess, which I think we can be certain it was. Lots of booing.

Noise Pancakes, earlier that day. All of the sets were pretty middle-of-the-road. Pretty palatable brunch music, but nothing mind-blowing. Horseflesh had a nice drone guitar thing going. Hora Flora had a bunch of speakers laying on objects with vibrations controlled by a sampler. The best sound was a sheet of paper on a little subwoofer. It seemed a little half-baked, but it was already miles ahead ahead of his G3 performance from a month or so ago. Interesting ideas with shaky realization. I'm thinking that this shit might really gel in about 6 months as sampler button pushing because less frantic and more controlled, and knowledge of acoustic properties of resonating objects is solidified. Co(sine) was harsh table pedal noise. Reminded me of some other guy I saw play at ArtSF, but I think that was a night noise. Lots of twisted faces and weird postures. I guess a lot of guys do this, though. I think someone shouted out “Will Ferrell!” at the end of his set. Brizbomb had a weird mad scientist set-up. 6-foot tall rack of gear – space echoes and such. White lab coat, smoke machine, flashing DJ lights. A little corny, but maybe it would have looked less screwy in a darkened room rather than broad daylight. Elise Baldwin laptop stuff. I don't really remember what she did, but I kind of liked it. Maybe my favorite set of the day, but then why don't I remember anything other than the caricature of her that adorned her name tag?

Compound Saturday night. Wow. Big bass tones from Damion Romero shook the fuck out of that room. Speakers were literally falling over and the poor sound guy had to quick draft people to hold the room together. If the “predicted” earthquake really did try to strike, Damion counteracted it, and sent it right back to the earth's core. About half the sounds (probably every sound above 200 Hz) were generated by parts of the room shaking. I'm not sure if I would've liked the clean version better, but the Compound is a pretty nice-sounding building to shake if you're gonna be shaking a building. It might have even sounded better outside. I caught a little bit of the sound check from out there. John Wiese had a brutal white noise attack. Kept me interested for 20 minutes, or whatever it was, but I have trouble describing it. Man, my ears didn't want to hear any more after that set. There was a suitably (probably overly) long intermission and the two played duo as Waves. They pretty much did the same thing as their respective solo sets, Damion covering the low end, and John on the high end white noise. Maybe it was the power of suggestion, but John really seemed to be going for more of a new age ocean sound this time – white noise wave swells. Really great. He dropped out for the last 6 minutes or so while Damion rode out some really fantastic bass tones. I think this was the sound he was trying to discover all night.

16 Bitch Pile-Up on Friday was good. Kind of like a reunion, but it really hasn't been all that long since their last show. They took it a lot of different places, from quiet solo trumpet to full-on walls of noise. That was a long time ago at this point, so don't expect any more talk. They too have a new album which you should listen to. Or just buy the poster and hang it up over your bed.

One more show brings me all the way back to last Thursday. My first time seeing Costes. It seemed really stupid at first. Some French people doing mildly transgressive things while shouting unintelligibly in French to a pre-recorded sound track with lots of dancey tracks. Somehow it maintained my interest for the whole show. Perhaps the escalation of transgressions was perfectly paced. Can't really say I liked it, but I kept an eye on the freak show the whole time. Had to take cover when the fake poo started flying. A nice blob ended up high up on 21 Grand's wall. Before that was Mr. Natural with that SAXOPHONIST WHO PLAYED ON FUN HOUSE guy. Harsh noise with weird sax, I think. I don't think I was into it too much. Omnivorous Sinsillium had their dual analog modular weeding out session. This was the first time it ever made any sense to me, but still I think those guys are on a different wavelength. I liked some of it, then I couldn't figure it out. That almost seems like a good thing – like maybe I'll learn to love it in 3 years. That's optimism, though. Ill hits from Count Loach all night long. Any DJ who wears a cape is okay by me. The outstanding set of the night was Core of the Coalman. Different approach than usual. The majority of the set was a massive viola drone – brutal and melancholy, sentimental and cathartic. Just what I wanted to be hearing. Echoed two days later by the massive walls erected the Compound. Ended up in something like a pedal noise fury. I was still riding high from the drone, so I don't really know much about that part.

The merciless schedule of shows I want to hear and am obligated to play at continues this week. Never had this problem in Wisconsin. It's a bit like how the Amish kids always end up hooked on crack during Rumspringa (see Devil's Playground [2002]... actually, I just told you the only thing worth gleaning from that movie).



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