Black Moth Super Rainbow make music for maniacs; misfits that don't fit in anywhere but a Black Moth Super Rainbow show. The combination of lo-fi, surreal visuals with muscular funk rhythms and a battery of cosmic sci-fi synths transport listeners to a grainy interzone of abandoned playgrounds, rolling cemeteries, and haunted shopping malls. The music of Tobacco (vocals/vocoder), Seven Fields of Aphelion (synth), Iffernaut (drums), Ryan Graveface (guitar), and Pony Diver (bass) is both nostalgic, romantic & playful, while maintaining an air of menace and danger.
In an insert that came with the album Dandelion Gum, there was talk of "vocoders humming amongst the flowers and synths bubbling under the leaf-strewn ground while flutes whistle in the wind and beats bounce to the soft drizzle of a warm acid rain". This sure sounds like technopagan nature worship, but then you have track names like "I Think I'm Evil" and "Psychic Love Damage", and you're just not sure what to think anymore. In a recent interview with Paste Magazine, Tobacco (real name: Tom Fec) spoke of the apparent contradiction:
"This is not a hippie band. It was never meant to be. I've always felt like, whether you can hear it in my music or not — and I'm sure you couldn't — almost like a punk asshole. People thought I was this gentle weed-smoking kid tripping out in a field somewhere. I think I'm more of like a dickhead prankster."
He then went on to describe backlash he received for the Sun Lips video from irate fans because the video "wasn't psychedelic".
"[All those expectations on what I'm supposed to like] are part of what I call the Black Moth box. You create this thing that's outside of the box, right? And the second you do that, people build a box for it. And it becomes an even smaller box than any box you were trying to not be in. And I feel like that happened to Black Moth."
When a concert at Portland venue Wonder Ballroom manages to sell out weeks in advance of the show, it can only mean one thing: the most zeitgeisty of artists must be coming to town. And sure enough, when it was announced that James Blake would be making his second appearance in as many years at the magnificent east side venue, tickets went quicker than expected. If nothing else, it proves that James Blake's new album was a success.
April 24th, 2013 @ Wonder Ballroom - Portland, OR
This might come off as a bit fanboyish -- but Django Django is the best band you probably haven't seen live yet.I've made no secret about my love for the quartet from the English isles, and a cancellation on their performance at Iceland Airwaves only furthered my anticipation. Like everyone else in the Neptune Theater on a rainy Tuesday evening in Seattle, I eagerly waited and waited for Django Django's jangly take on psych-electronic influenced rock -- a wait which first began since KEXP started blasting "Default" nearly 15 months ago.
March 19th, 2013 @ Neptune Theatre, Seattle, WA
Django Django chose Minneapolis-based Night Moves, fresh off of a whole lot of good press for the brand new band. The quartet, using a little bit of odd samples and pre-recorded instrumentation, looked like veterans for the crowd, channeling their inner-Portugal. The Man as they delivered a psych-rock set that would make any Deadhead proud. The band, however, isn't prone to senseless noodling; they kept their set nice and tight for an opener, and sounded much more polished than you would expect.
We are Rachel, Vivian, and Gina, three close friends who like to call our friend-force "the Trifecta". In 2011, we commemorated a collectively cathartic year with a zine entitled We Will Outlive Our Current Concerns., filled with highlight reels from our very womanly Google chats. That year and the chats themselves were largely centered around astrology, metaphysical thoughts, pop culture, and relationships -- but for 2013, we're bringing SXSW coverage into our personal lives. Rather than writing up simple show reviews, we hope to present to you an uncensored portrait of our exceptional 3-way mind-meld, as we navigate through the chaos that is SXSW in our own manic, sarcastic, and profound ways. Mostly, we talk about food, document idiosyncrasies, review music... and bring it all home with more talk about food.
Rachel, Vivian, and Gina
Rachel: People in Austin are so nice! I’d almost forgotten from living in New York for so long.
Gina: Portland’s spoiled us; I don’t think I can live anywhere where people aren’t nice.
Vivian: I don’t think people in New York are that bad...
Gina: Yeah, we’ve had some good convos there.
Vivian: It’s just all kinds.
REDEFINE's third unofficial SXSW house party went off with minimal hitches, as usual. With 1,250 free beers from Dos Equis with which to lubricate showgoers, we created a musical oasis in the midst of corporate SXSW chaos, full of good vibes, good music, and real...
They say that watching a master at work lights up the same regions of the brain as if you were executing the work yourself. That is to say – if you were to watch a tennis champion win Wimbledon with an EKG glued to your temples, it would be as if you were playing tennis yourself. Masters, experts, geniuses... pinnacles of human achievement. They show us what is possible.
Inspiration is essential in an age of uncertainty, when it seems like we're living at the bottom of a gravity well of despair, where everything is conspiring to dull your shine, to make you docile and easily controllable. When you feel like everything you see and hear is a copy of a copy of a copy, endlessly degraded, it is refreshing to find an unbroken thread of Illumination. Brilliance is not easily marketable.
But then you have the Jerusalem Quartet, that have dedicated their lives to sawing away at wooden boxes stretched taut with catgut. It would be preposterous if it weren't so beautiful. The ambitious young quartet, who has been described by The Strad as "one of the young, yet great quartets of our time," have undertaken to perform all 15 of Dmitri Shostakovich's String Quartets.
March 11th, 2013 @ Lincoln Hall, Portland
Grouper is a dark star of the Portland experimental scene. She hardly needs any introduction, but her records have hypnotized international audiences for years, yet she remains somewhat aloof from the local music scene. She DOES pop up, from time to time, making sporadic and memorable appearances, often times at small, inexpensive events. Saturday evening's performance was part of Reed College's Art Week; an early, free all-ages show in Reed College's Chapel.
March 9th, 2013 @ Reed College's Eliot Hall in Portland, OR
The theme was REVERIE (a topic close to my heart), and this was their goal:
"We see it as an opportunity to consider the fluidity of the aesthetic and physical dispositions by which we situate ourselves. To experience REVERIE is to become dislocated, excised from the familiar and submerged in the irrational."
-- from the RAW website
The bathroom is cramped at the Star Theater, and it's very hard to find a decent space to snort ketamine properly. I have to put my foot in front of the door because you can't lock it. Managing to get a pinky or two up there, my experiment has begun. KMFDM, on ketamine. Their laser light show helped lull me into the warm disconnect of the substance immediately, and coming up, it was easier to enjoy the show. Separations occurred within the walls of distortion; I could begin to make out the synths, pre-programmed sequenced data filling all the nooks and crannies. It pulsed and distorted in tandem with fist after fist pumping into the air. The refracting laser lights bouncing off all the heads, creating cathedrals of hair dye.
KMFDM does not stand for Kill Motherfucking Depeche Mode. I’m not going to tell you what it does stand for; it’s in German and you have Google. As a part of the first Chicago Wax Trax! industrial bands that included Front 242, Ministry, My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult, KMFDM have a place in electronic music history. They have been a band for nearly 30 years, always touring the states heavily. They have great militant imagery based on the artwork of Aidan Hughes. Their sound is classic. Like Van Halen.
March 8th, 2013 @ Star Theatre - Portland, Oregon
Many people in the United States will say that post-rock has played itself out -- but to just go ahead and label things as straight up post-rock is really the more played out aspect of the criticism, for what exactly makes post-rock? Generally speaking, it's instrumental music prone to rising crescendos and plummeting musical valleys. The methodology of how various bands get there is often the same, but often times, despite a similar approach, you'll get wildly different results.
Athens, Georgia-based Maserati and Boston, Massachusetts-based Caspian each passed through Seattle on different tickets, separated by a few days. The two bands, both instrumental and both hanging out with the post-rock cloud looming over their heads, are prime examples of how varied the genre can sound. It isn't quite played out yet, and these two bands prove it.
To be old and punk rock is to be old and potentially irrelevant, and that is, to a certain degree, why most punk bands have such a limited life cycle. How can anyone maintain the anger, aggression and emotional commitment to hold onto the values and morals deemed important as a teenager, without the world grinding it all down into a jaded package of disillusion?
There is nothing that says that being in a punk band means you have to start when you are 20 and cease when you are 27, but to a certain degree, the writing is on the wall the moment you start. You may have been bellowing discontent to a crowd of 20-year-olds with your first vinyl, but after the third album is released, an older you will probably still be bellowing that discontent to a crowd of 20-year-olds.
With that in mind, it is completely understandable why bands in the realm live and die so quickly, and those that stick around for decades are few and far between.
February 10th, 2012 @ Showbox at the Market, Seattle
But Gainsville, Florida quartet Hot Water Music are one of the few between. Hot Water Music released Finding the Rhythms in 1995. After eight full-lengths, numerous EPs, and returning from an "indefinite hiatus", the torchbearers of the post-hardcore/emo wave of the mid-'90s are still going strong. For their tour in support of their latest release, Exister, HWM took out for support two very similar bands in different points in their career: La Dispute and The Menzingers.
When reminiscing about Hot Water Music, most people bring up how they were their favorite band at one point or how no one else spoke closer to home lyrically, etc., etc. For many in the punk community, Hot Water Music proved that you can wear your heart on your sleeve and not sacrifice any points for it. This evening at the Showbox in Seattle, the legions of kids that sang along to their every word 15 years ago have aged and matured likewise, rounding their set out with one of the oldest median age punk crowds you'd see in a while. When "Wayfarer" rang out, the crowd cheered almost louder than the band sang. The mosh pit was active, but not in a stupidly vicious way, and there wasn't a single crowdsurfer until a teenager finally was able to get on the shoulders of someone else to make his mad dash for the barrier between the crowd and the stage.
HOT WATER MUSIC - EXISTER ALBUM REVIEW
LIVE SHOW REVIEW CONTINUED BELOW