Deliberately shrill and mostly dense, "noise" has become a blanket term for bands that explore and experiment around the beaten path. The genre, like others, isn't without its share of hangups, but that's why we're here. Every month, we supply a short list of sure bets in St. Louis, ranging from needlessly complex to minimalist drone. Connect the weird to your ears.
The dog days have arrived, along with a massive wave of shows. Young groups tend to tour in the first half of August, squandering their last few days before the next college semester. Because of that fact, now's a good time for concert-goers to scope out new and old acts alike. The ball has been dropped though, because I already missed what would've been the top pick for this month: Dead Rider at the Firebird on August 8. Instead of mourning the loss of a great performance, check out the band's latest music video below:
Another notable mention is Bull of Heaven, a two-piece noise outfit from Denver, Colorado. Since 2008, the band has been intensely prolific, releasing hundreds of recordings including several pieces that clock in at over 24 hours in length. Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center invited the seminal duo to perform on August 2 in honor of the art space's twenty year anniversary. The band prides itself on long-form pieces of drone and ambient music, but its catalog is anything but limited. See for yourself.
All is not lost. August still brings a wealth of gigs for fans of outsider music. From driving prog-rock to free-jazz, the schedule this month is jammed with talent. Let's explore:
Lair (MA) w/ Pat Sajak Assassins, Western Forever, Solid State Disaster Wednesday, August 13 Blank Space 8 pm | $5 | 21+
Lair plays with a solid core of rock n roll, relying on a tethered layer of synthesizer to thicken the sound. There's an audible inspiration from kraut rock of the '60s and '70s, but Lair maintains a distinct rip. Using live drums and guitar to fill in the holes between colorful backing tracks, the duo plays music that's more akin to a five or six piece band, and does it with strict timing. You could call this band a cyborg - a hybrid of man and machine.
Western Forever is the latest endeavor from experimental drummer Nate Larson. Guitar riffs trail off like space rock around the pitter-patter of sharp jazz drumming. Although their songs are mostly improvised, there's an audible cohesion that commands close listening.
Read on for more of our best picks for experimental shows in August, including Ahleuchatistas, Fielded and more. Ahleuchatistas (NC) w/ Kisser, Corrigan Brothers Friday, August 15 Schlafly Tap Room 9 pm | Free | All Ages
Asheville duo Ahleuchatistas applies microtonal guitar and traditional Eastern rhythm to heavy, guttural rock. The sheer range of sound these two produce is especially striking, considering their minimalist setup of drums and guitar. Shane Perlowin's fretwork alone induces a sonic seizure while percussionist Ryan Oslance expands upon the melodies with absolute precision. Few bands play as perfect as Ahleuchatistas does.
Kisser is set to release its follow up cassette tape to 2011's Black and Red on this night. The power trio wrecks psychedelic rock with a deconstructionist vibe, ripping apart the pieces only to slap them back together. It's a true Picasso painting of punk rock, complete with neigh-distorted bass and a guitar drenched in post-processing. Drummer Mike Herr's percussion is an added bonus, coming from a place between primal beats and subtle abstraction.
Fielded (IL) w/ Ou Où, Skull's Mind Friday, August 29 The Luminary Center for the Arts 8 pm | $10 | 21+
If the music scene were a high school (sometimes it really feels that way) Fielded would sit somewhere between the goths and punks, taking every chance she had to make friends with both. What Chicago artist Lindsay Powell achieves with Fielded is remarkable. Her crooning voice folds unto itself in loops while sharp beats punctuate the proceedings. Powell invokes basement post-punk of the early '80s, but does so with a pile of sequenced sound. This is audible cyberpunk. It's music to play while wearing sunglasses at night - to protect your eyes from the blinding neon lights of Neo-Tokyo, of course.
Mild Power Fundraiser featuring: Dave Stone, Josh Weinstein, Alex Cunningham Trio Ghost Ice, Kevin Harris Duo Thursday, August 21 Schlafly Tap Room 9 pm | Free | All Ages
As part of a fundraiser for a future experimental show happening later this fall, Jeremy Kannapell aka Ghost Ice has organized a shortlist of St. Louis' more prolific noise players. While the show itself can't be previewed, mostly due to the fact that many of these performers will be collaborating for the first time, this show is a safe bet for fans of free-form music, improvisation, free-jazz and noise. If you just unconsciously turned your nose up at the sight of the aforementioned genres, you're probably reading the wrong column.
Think I left something out? Piss off! No, actually, you're probably right. I usually cap this column at three or four shows. Share what you know in the comments below. For the future, drop me a line any time at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph Hess is the Editorial Coordinator for the Riverfront Times. When he's not, you know, coordinating, he is the DJ of the experimental rock show Wrong Division over at KDHX (88.1 FM). Visit his personal blog here for more on this city's DIY and experimental music. Or stalk him on Twitter.
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