A review of the"Russian Circles/Daughters
", because I'm bored.
First impression, The Clubhouse does all-ages shows much better than usual, either that or this attracted a better crowd than the last all ages show I saw, Tortoise
, at the Rhythm Room, which was just an unmitigated mire of suck. This is both because there as some degree of air conditioning, and because they allowed me to be a lush, without being disturbed by puppies (I'm guessing the feeling would be mutual). The only odd thing was that the puppies weren't allowed to leave. As if being under 21 precludes being over 18 (and thus one of the few blessed smokers).
The first "band", was not a band. It was a guy. I don't know who he was. But he managed to do guitar, drums, and vocals, all on his own, which is impressive. I kept hoping he'd strap a harmonica on (ala Bob Dylan
), or maybe bolt a violin to his shoulder, and duct tape the bow to his chin. Upside, he managed to do three things at once I can't do, downside, everything he did sounded vaguely like Isis
. Adding to the upside, he had a plastic owl, so I kept on having bizarre Twin Peaks flashbacks.
The first of the "headliners" (is this term appropriate for small venues?), a band called Daughters
, popped up. For some reason a friend of a friend decided to move to the front, three feet from a towering speaker, instead of being sensable and hiding behind various cordons keeping the booze away from the kids. This band never impressed me, listening to them on their page here, and always stuck me as undeserving of the "mathcore
" tag, unless our version of math involves random numbers, and the trajectories of bodily fluid.
They were bad. REALLY REALLY BAD. It was just a wall of piercing noise, while the frontman hopped about twitching and throwing spit on the audience (who seemed oddly okay with this), and himself, between bouts of playing with his "manhood". It was hideous. That said, I will see them again. I never laughed so damn hard in my whole life, I almost vomited twice, I was laughing so hard, my ribs still hurt. The only sad thing was that the rest of the audience was taking it all so damn seriously.
If DaDa got pissed off, and was turned into music, this would be it. The band played with so much enthusiasm, much more that than style. Which is odd, since there were moments where you realized that each of them were obviously talented, but were choosing not to be, for dramatic effect.
Looking at their little blurb here; it says that they are "experimental
"... I don't think that that is appropriate, unless that "genre" has become a genre in itself with a proscribed sound and style, like "indie
", and "alternative
" before it, and not simply a statement meaning that they are trying new things. As amusing as they were, experimental they weren't.
I ramble. So, finally came the moment of "truth" (if you grant me this weak linguistic cliche), Russian Circles
. Their two albums are impressive, managing to throw together the hardness of metal, with the subtlety of post-rock. Some of this subtlety was lost at the show, by no fault of their own. It was to damn LOUD to actually pick out nuance, until roughly half way through the set, where things got absolutely awesome. Incidentally, the volume was consistently excessive throughout the whole show. I don't know if this is normal (albeit pointless), or if I'm just getting old.
Outside of the volume washing out some of the nuances, they were quite everything I expected, and very impressive live, even if the drummer sounded like he was working on a nice cold. For the second half, volume gave way to nice ambiance, and waves of harmonics. It was all very enveloping. Talking like this makes me giggle at myself.
The drummer, here, deserves special notice. With his obvious cold, and the oppressive heat, he still managed to impress. He's tied for first in my "most impressive small-venue drummer" catagory, along with the American from the Red Elvises
. He obviously doesn't hold a stick (ahem!) to Danny Carey
, or Tomas Haake
, but he's young so has room to be more impressive with age (like cheese).
The audience was rather standard fare, though somewhat light on the people making statements on their individuality, which is refreshing. Oddly, this is one of the few times that the audience didn't stand around for the "encore" mantra, and just filed quickly out the second Russian Circles left the stage (followed even more quickly by last call). I would like to attribute this to empathy for the drummer and his halos of sweat, rather than a lack of ambition on the behalf of the audience.
Final impressions, it was enjoyable, albeit far to loud. I think I'm getting too old for this stuff, my legs still hurt, and my ears rang for hours, and it left me altogether tired. I'd do it again, though, but enjoy it from a sensible distance, perhaps with ear muffs.
(odd, I was mocking the venue for having an advert for $2 ear plugs in the men's room, but now I understand. If it necessary though, or just a marketing scheme, the louder it is, the more $2 volume sacrifices they can pocket?)