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SHOCKWAVES


The Bomb Squad, The Hood Internet, Database, The School of Flyentology
Yacht Club, 4/1/10

Like most of the LV staff and writers, I spent Thursday madly dashing between venues, trying to catch multiple things going on at the same time.  My official assignment, though, was this show at the Yacht Club, where I learned a valuable life lesson – not only can old dogs learn new tricks, they’re never too tired to turn on their former masters like Kujo.

The place was a goddamn sweatbox from start to finish, packed with people, their condensed energy dripping from the walls and ceilings.  It started with dem Flyentology boyz, who cultivated the bare soil of an empty dance floor into a jungle of lost moves.  Surprisingly, I didn’t notice a cadre of surly hip hop fans wishing ill to Flyentology’s bubblegum mashups and mega-house, or for that matter to the subsequent hyper-gabba pop of Sao Paolo’s Database.  I figured the Bomb Squad name would have brought out a roomful of scowling warrior stances, ready to relive the glory days of Public Enemy seriousness (not that PE ever didn’t jam, but memory can be funny like that).

Not to highlight my dereliction of duty, but in the midst of all this I was hopping back and forth to (new/old) Gabe’s, and caught good chunks of Broken Water, a real burner of a guitar crunch machine, and a tantalizing little slice of Acid Mothers Temple.  I saw them a few years back with an eight-piece unit, which was probably the greatest show of my life.  Even with just the four core members, it was a brain-melter.  I overheard people saying they’d driven two hours to catch this show.

No one is more surprised than me, though, that Bomb Squad was actually more exciting, mostly because I was expecting a nostalgia act and got a trip straight up the nose of the future.  Instead of either retreading past hits (which I would not have minded at all) or even putting together new material that draws on their trademark analog-zoo intensity, Hank and Keith Shocklee have – at a point in their career where most musicians are either on Celebrity Fit Club or a Christmas album – carried forward the spirit of their old work by taking up a whole new genre – dubstep.

Originally coming out of England, dubstep in the U.S. has come to denote the smokey, mysterious sounds of Burial – but the Shocklees have become devotees of a more broadly popular subcategory, the same mix of high-speed stuttering beats and grinding, sub-audible analog bass that fills ravey events like Tokyo’s Murder Channel.  Dubstep, in this original form, is maybe the only conventionally “black” music that could be completely summed up with the word “brutal”; dubstep is heavy metal for beatheads.

So, it’s no surprise that the Yacht Club, in all its sweaty, boozy messtacularity, totally exploded.  It was the kind of animal insanity that takes quiet care to craft.  Making people lose their minds with sound isn’t a matter of turning it up to eleven, but of leading them down a primrose path until all of a sudden they look around and haven’t got a clue how they ended up here, hanging from the rafters, busting out the ceiling panels, lovingly shouldering the bastard next to you because I wanna get closer, I need to have more.  Lost in the moment, until you forget the difference between listening, brawling, and fucking.

The only real shame is that there weren’t more people there.  I mean, that’ll sound ridiculous to anyone who was there – the place was packed almost to the very end.  And, you know, kudos to the Yacht Club for actually conforming to the fire code.  But I’m not sure I would have minded being crushed to death to the sound of crazed forty-year-olds becoming one with the revolution.

Oh, and for those wondering – Chuck who?


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