Siege, Ultramantis Black, Lunglust
Saturday August 13, 7 pm to 11 pm at Sunnyvale: $15
The Acheron’s closing got you down? (RIP BBs.) Well, here’s your chance to thrash the pain away with a seriously brutal hardcore show happening this weekend at Sunnyvale (that new-ish kid on the block). As a fire-safe venue with lounge chairs, art installations, a killer backline and, like, legit permits n’ stuff, this may not be the punkest setting, but the place has good bones and great vibes. Oh, and Sunnyvale used to be a super nasty underground punk club too, so there’s that.
But no matter where a band like Siege lays down their punishingly fast hardcore, the place will automatically be inducted into honorary punk-venue history. The legendary Boston hardcore band, formed in ’81, were pioneering not just in the sheer, subhuman bass-snapping speed that they wielded like a chainsaw, but in their willingness to push boundaries. Today, their stuff sounds like grindcore with vocals that any black metal band would kill for.
You might be thinking Boston?! Anything but Boston hardcore, that special same-sounding straightedge badittude– believe me, I feel the same way. But Siege was the exception, something that ended up being sort of a theme for them: in spite of X (like, seriously, fill in the blank) they became hugely influential. In spite of being from Boston, they defied the straightedge hardcore norm and did it better and faster while they were at it.
Siege only released one album, Drop Dead, and did so in 1984, at the tail-end of their first run. Even then, Drop Dead was more like a shitty cassette tape with demos (produced by Lou Giordano, “soundman” for Hüsker Dü and founder of Radiobeat records). It wasn’t until 1994 that Relapse gave Drop Dead a proper album-like release. Siege has reformed a few times for brief reunions over the years, but this is their first since 1991, so it’s definitely worth the price of a $10 ticky.
UltraMantis Black, named for the professional wrestler known for dressing up like the grim reaper and espousing communist political views, also happens to be the band’s frontman of this super group. The band was formed when the wrestler joined forces with members of Pissed Jeans. The result? Imagine Pissed Jeans, only smeared with excrement and blood splatter from backyard wrestling victories. Then there’s Lunglust, a band that takes the best of hardcore– its speed, sloppiness, passion– and welds it to sludge metal’s demonic vocal range and relentless double bass assaults.
EZTV, Lionlimb, Lina Tullgren
Thursday August 8, 8 pm at Silent Barn: $10
This show’s just a slight change of pace from all that hardcore insanity (see above), but there’s no better show to help you ease into weekend lounging. EZTV are riding the chill-wave/’80s rock board straight to eyes-half-opened bliss– close them all the way, and you’re likely to drift off to your happy place involving freshly cut grass and a cold, but not too cold, kiddie pool situation. In other words, EZTV’s just what the doctor ordered for those 90-degree summer days when the last thing you want is to be obligated to move around so much.
Lionlimb will be there for the easy grooving that you need after popping whatever you’ve got in your pocket and washing it down with a beer. Their anthemy disco-rock’s infused with delicate brass and whispery, laid-back funk vocals, and it’s the perfect catalyst from the kind of dancing you could handle in platform shoes and large bell bottoms while balancing a line of (something legal!) atop that space between your thumb and your forefinger and passing it around for shares.
Just because you’re a female vocalist with a guitar and an album cover that looks exactly like Courtney Barnett’s adorable chicken scratch doesn’t mean that your music sounds exactly like Ms. Barnett’s, necessarily. Lina Tullgren‘s not quite as brassy as Barnett, but at least she’s bereft of that Australian accent. And in this economy, like or not, we’ve gotta support our own– luckily, Tullgren’s got a lovely voice and if you’re in need of something to take the edge off all those lusty Lionlimb tracks, welp, this will definitely tame your hungry lion heart.
Yairms, And How!, Severed Fingers, Silent Piece
Sunday August 14, 8 pm at Cake Shop: $10
Turns out North Carolina is the only thing tying these bands together, so here goes…
It’s an exciting thing to hear artists who are actually doing something different with rock music– that nebulous thing as ancient and weighty as geological rock things are themselves. It’s a rare thing to want to mess with a good thing and an even rarer feat to actually pull it off. Yairms does just that, taking rock innovation a step further even by going loudly into that dark, pop night while maintaining their penchant for gritty, down-home foot stomping realness. The latter may not come through clearly on their recordings, but it’s turned on to full-blast at their live shows, often eclipsing their pop hooks in favor of foregrounding their bedraggled weirdness. We’re not talking the sort of Appalachia chic that’s oddly found a home at a certain “supper”-serving restaurant in Bushwick, or even some misinformed crack at a ’70s Moosewood revival. (These guys actually spent some time living in North Carolina, and whatever it is they were steeping in down there, they’ve packed it up and brought it with them here to Brooklyn). Nay, in Yairms’s case, the freak-a-leak strain is something that (thankfully) prevents easy digestion, and acts as either a bunch of ingredients that you can’t place or one note that makes the whole casserole taste just strange enough to keep you feasting.
And How! would sound right at home in an ’80s-does-’50s diner– you know, the kind that looks like a spaceship on the outside,and an episode of Saved By the Bell on the inside, only the teal and neon pink accents have acquired that distinctly overwashed-nurse’s-uniform fade from years of sun-bleaching, bacon grease, and total and complete apathy. But And How! are anything but bored and uninterested. (I mean, they have an exclamation point in their name, so… ) A great deal of electro synth-pop stuff these days clings to one of two poles– either airy, ethereal party sounds or cold, darkwave– regardless, it’s high fashion stuff. But these guys are unafraid of the ugly weirdness in between, and are all about bearing complexities that may not be fit for runway shows or cyber-goth raves, but that are intriguing nonetheless.
If your definition of “punk” includes any cultural product that embodies a punk attitude, and not necessarily three-chords and safety pins, then you won’t be so shocked to hear that a band called Severed Fingers sounds, at first anyway, a bit more like a Bob Dylan/folk/country summer-camp outfit than their self-imposed genre. Punk’s torturous repetition is definitely there, but nearly every song seems to be about a weepy, hard-drinkin’ fella with a broken heart to mend. And if that’s simply too hard to wrap your head around, Silent Piece (aka Kenny Wheeler’s ambient noise project) will open the show with a gentle skull cracking to get things going.