Noise Pop Show Review: No Age, Grass Widow, Rank/Xerox and Crazy Band at Rickshaw Stop, 2/26/11

by J. Lawrence King on March 3, 2011

I want it to be understood that I’m fucking sick of irony…and I’m not being ironic here either. Crazy Band was…crazy. There. I said it. This almost entirely female band was fronted by a girl in sunglasses, a white security hat, overalls and tights who screeched incoherently into her mic. At one point the bassist entered the crowd to join the mosh pit where she apparently had a tooth knocked out. They played songs with titles like “Can you lick your own boob?” This is where it becomes difficult to assess the quality of Crazy Band’s music. Essentially they are a noise band. The only discernible structure came from their percussion (which was surprisingly tight). The rest of the band was exactly what you expect from a noise band: chaotic, anarchistic, loud, irritating. I heard several people say things like, “This isn’t even bearable.” And that is probably the exact response that Crazy Band was going for. So I guess they were successful…but so what?

By the time Rank/Xerox came on stage the crowd had nearly doubled in size at the Rickshaw. This San Francisco trio was tight and cohesive. Their sound reminiscent of early Wire: short punk songs with no shortage of attitude. They played a short energetic set without any of the on stage banter we saw from Crazy Band. The only time they really even said anything to the crowd was to inform us that they broke a guitar string and would be finishing the set with a new guitar.

Grass Widow, another San Francisco trio followed Rank/Xerox with some more loud punk. This time fronted by two dynamic female vocalists who bounced harmonies off each other through a brief but exhilarating set. The Rickshaw was completely full for their set. The only problem was the way the guitars drowned out the vocals, despite their frequent pleas for more vocals from the sound man.

No Age took the stage to booming applause. They began with echoing feedback set to a loop of skateboarders on a projection screen. This feedback then transitioned into the opening chords of “Teen Creeps” at which point the crowd pushed toward the stage an began bouncing up and down in unison. What was most amazing about No Age’s set is that they began with so much energy, yet never lost that energy throughout the set. Whether it was “Fever Dreaming” from last year’s Everything In Between or the aptly named “Cappo” from Nouns, the crowd followed every transition, knew every word (despite the fact that singer Dean Allan Spunt was barely audible over Randy Randall’s layers of noise).

My previous experience with No Age (they headlined a showcase at SXSW last year) didn’t prepare me for this experience. Spunt’s drumming was superb throughout, but Randall was the real highlight of the night. He deftly maneuvered between layers of sound, even venturing into several noise solos that left the audience exasperated and pleading for more. He may not quite be able to put Lee Rinaldo or Thurston Moore to shame, but he can start to be mentioned in the same breath. When they finished their set, Randall informed the crowd that they were going to dispense with the typical rock and roll bullshit where the band pretends to leave and the audience applauds for several minutes before the band reemerges for an encore. Instead they transitioned immediately into their encore set, finishing with a loud rendition of Weirdo Ripper’s “Boy Void” which culminated with Randall throwing his guitar onto the drum set where Spunt began drumming on the fret board while Randall played with the controls on his foot board. The band then left the stage, the house lights went up and the crowd just looked around, ear drums still ringing.

Read Also:

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: