There are bands that entertain you, bands that make music for you to dance, and there are bands that take you by the throat, transport you into another space and time and don’t leave you alone until they are done with you. You don’t sing-along to their tunes, you can’t, you just experience the show, while being taken by some heavy atmosphere and incredible theatricality. These bands occupy the space like any other ones and their performance is so definitive, that nothing else can follow.
On Thursday, there were two of these bands playing one of the Satellite’s Silverlake Nights! – actually three bands performed that night and I apologize for the third one as I could not stay this late – they both fitted the description with two different styles while being led by two intense frontmen.
I have written a ridiculous amount of times about Egrets of Ergot (here, here, here and here) so I hope they don’t think I am stalking them, but it seems they are constantly playing around lately, and it’s a good thing since their originality on the Los Angeles music scene is quite unique. They once again opened the show with their weirdness, which has been qualified of post-art-punk music, but could be everything from a raucous assault to eardrums with chunks of horror punk, to a constant changes of rhythms with fierce accelerations, led by Adam Brooks’ angry shriek and lugubrious sax injections, which can even get into an Afro-punk vibe. Even after seeing them a few times, their sound and theatricality were unpredictable, with this time even the addition of a musician sitting on stage with a sitar. Their threatening cacophony wants to shake you, while everything in their frontman’s stage antics translates the angst of these disturbing times. Each one of their performances is different, looking like an on-repeat exorcist of the demon inside, while every second of their music is as twisted as Brooks’ impossible body contortions. They have recently release an album, ‘Surfeit of Gemütlich’ produced by Paul Roessler (Nina Hagen, The Screamers), and if this will give you a taste of their experimental darkness and goth inspirations, nothing can replace a live experience of Egrets on Ergot.
I had been so impressed by Spirit in the Room’s performance last September, that I wanted to see them again. At the time I had compared their sound to a more experimental version of Nine Inch Nails with an aggression as loud as something coming from Refused, and I will stay with these comparisons, although their music and very layered sound remains a challenge to categorize. I could even say that there was an abrasive emotion attached to their intense and distorted sound, and the swagger of their performance and the way they were shaking guitars and mic stands reminded me about Queens of the Stone Age at times. With all kinds of street and ambiance sounds introduced in the mix, their music stayed on the aggressive mode from start to finish, with a restless Dennis R. Sanders, a frontman whose vocals alternated between horrified screams and icy spoken words. Darkness is their scene, and chaos is the place where they shine, and with song titles such as ‘Satan’, ‘Destroyed’, ‘Stigmata’, ‘Fever’, and ‘Doing Them in!’, they immediately set up the tone of the night, while bassist Darren Howard and guitarist Kyle Nadeau produced an astoundingly loudness oscillating between an arena-rock show and an industrial throb. A few of their songs had a real punk hardcore violence, and were the perfect backyard for Sanders’ anxious moves, making him look like a menacing predator ready to kill someone with the mic stand or a tracked prey running from the back to the edge of the stage. Other songs bathed in heavy fuzz, but all of them had the same intense stare, high energy, and anger discharge. Even if their sound was extremely difficult to sum up in a few words, it was a true rock ‘n’ roll party with mic half-swallowed, liquid spilled on stage, furious jump in the pit to dance with the crowd, and full body crawling on stage. Making music dangerous seemed to be one of the goals.
Egrets on Ergot and Spirit in the Room are two electrifying bands, fronted by two charismatic men, who can stay in full assault during an entire performance. While mainstream music has become dull and inoffensive, the indie scene is there to remind us the true disturbing purpose of art.
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