Show Review: Lightning Bolt, T.I.T.S., High Castle at Rickshaw Stop, 4/13/11

by Dakin Hardwick on April 14, 2011

Noise is probably one of the most varied genres of music out there. It can cover simple clanking if anvils, carefully executed pieces of experimental classical music, or just a thunderous barrage of sound played be traditional rock instruments. Tonight’s show at Rickshaw Stop concentrated on the latter, but was still a widely varied evening of sounds. We had the pumped up, nearly punk rock sound of Oakland’s High Castle, feminist no wave throwbacks T.I.T.S., and to cap things off, a highly anticipated reunion gig from Lightning Bolt.

High Castle played a solid set of aggressive, noisy punk rock. They didn’t rewrite the genre at all, but they were a fun and totally appropriate band to open the show with. San Francisco’s T.I.T.S., another band that seems to have been dormant for a few years, also pulled down a fair set. Their brand of syncopated no wave seemed to be lost on a portion of the audience, which is a surprise in itself that anything could be too out there for the Lightning Bolt crowd, but they were. They sounded great, but their enthusiasm was very low. It might have been from the painful screaming from the crowd requesting the band “show me your tits,” or the lackluster vibe, but it didn’t come off as much. I hope to see them again in a setting that is better suited, because this was simply an incompatible show.

As for our headliners, well, there was a definite air of excitement for this gig that pulsated during the time the band set up. The crowd was probably about 90% male, and the crowd started moving long before the drums even made it our from the green room. This crowd was intense… It didn’t feel like I was awaiting experimental, mostly improvised music. It felt like we were waiting for Slayer to come on.

From the moment bassist Brian Gibson and drummer/singer Brian Chippendale took the stage it was pure chaos. They had no setlist, and I don’t really think they played many predetermined “songs.” Gibson, on his five string bass (which uses a banjo string as the 5th string), stood nearly stoically throughout the set. Yet, he was pulling sounds out his bass that I didn’t think were possible. Those five strings carried enough noise for you to think there were 50 people playing guitars, basses, synthesizers, anvils, and trash compactors. It was an exhilarating sound, only to be matched by Chippendale, the most apeshit drummer this side of Animal from the Muppet Show. He had a mask with the receiver of a telephone hooked in, created the illusion of a psychedelic gimp. His vocals were fairly muted, and only colored the sound slightly.

This was different from the band’s heyday… The band opted to play on stage as opposed to the middle of the crowd, as they would during the noise-era, which in my mind was 1999-2004. This wasn’t a nostalgia-trip of a reunion show, and the adrenaline in the crowd was infectious. The entire room was a sweaty mosh, with crowd surfing going non-stop. At one point in the set, the venue’s security asked the band to mellow for a bit  before people started getting hurt. It gave some much necessary breathing room before we got going again. And when we did, well, it was continuously physical and aural assault. Even when I walked to the back of the venue to rest my weary bones, the intensity of everything caused me to feel like I was moving frantically while standing perfectly still.

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Zack Frederick April 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm

One of my friends was up front with you and reviewed the show for our blog if you want to check it out. I was up top, on the balcony, listening with earplugs, which made his vocals a lot clearer — perhaps if you’d gotten a little further from the stage you would have heard them a little better. Nonetheless, crazy-ass show. Lots of fun to watch from above you guys losing-your-shit.

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