Sunday, August 07, 2011

8.5.2011, FTW

It was Jon Teague's birthday, so we went to the Wild Rooster to catch him playing with Pinkish Black on the occasion of the release of the Great Tyrant record, and scope out the room, since the li'l Stoogeband is playing there August 27th. Also on the bill were Greg Ginn & The Royal We and Cinema Cinema.

When we arrived, Mr. Ginn was already playing. It was kind of weird seeing him in a sports bar, but the audience was probably different than the regular crowd that frequents the joint (on the site of the old Asel Art). It's a good sounding room, where wizard o' sound Andre Edmonson has been helping out with the sound system. Greg controlled his own sound from the stage, though. These days, he's doing the one-man-band thing, playing guitar and theremin over sequenced tracks with a drum machine.

While the sound of that instrument, and the simple repetitive figures Ginn played much of the time, reminded me (uncomfortably) of playing with Nathan Brown, the stuff Greg played was seductively hypnotic, proving the hypothesis that you can take any musical fragment and make a song out of it by layering and orchestrating it. And when he dug in and pealed off one of his patented chaos-solos, it was damn near wish fulfillment time.

At this point in his career, ex-B**** F***/SST Records honcho Ginn can do pretty much whatever he wants, and I got the definite impression that he's just building tracks he can groove to. The performance could probably have gone on longer than it did; you got the feeling he could do this stuff for hours. When the music really transported him, you could see his right leg sliding back into his iconic stance.

But some of the audience members didn't appear to know what to make of it, which suggests to me that what a lot of punters dig about live music is the interaction between the dudes. Ginn having found the final solution to the lead singer-bassplayer-drummer problem is no longer encumbered by that, but it definitely seemed to diminish some folks' enjoyment (although I bet at least some of 'em would have dug it on record). I was just happy when he turned up his guitar at the Cinema Cinema cats' request. And offstage, he just seemed like a nice, down-to-earth fella.

Cinema Cinema are a coupla cousins from Brooklyn that rip it up on guitar and drums. By now we've seen loads of bassless duos, my all-time faves being the Immortal Lee County Killers and Local H. Dese Brooklyn brats' music is a lot more varied, dynamically and texturally, than most similarly-configured crews'. They can go from sparse to dense, kicking up enough racket for four or five instruments, with singer-guitarist Ev Gold rocking a distinctive shaved-head-with-full-beard look, along with the biggest pedal board I've seen since Michio Kurihara visited Rubber Gloves with Boris. (Of course, Michio had two.) The octave pedal as the final solution to the bassplayer problem? _You_ decide!

Ev and his cousin Paul Claro -- a trap-kicker who's as technically adept as he is aggressively abandoned -- lock it tight in the pocket and drive on relentlessly with punk fury and arena rock grandeur. Then at the end, Ev breaks it down with feedback squalls as if to remind you they're from Brooklyn. Their new EP, Shoot the Freak, was produced by Don Zientara, who famously did the duties for lotsa now-legendary D.C. hardcore outfits, and does a good job of documenting their strengths, while The 57 EP captures them on their home turf, playing their 57th show, and is bracingly raw.

Pinkish Black continues to expand their range, and remains one of the most prolific bands on the local set. They'll have their debut disc released by Dada Drumming in 2012, but on this particular night, they were unleashing the first full-length from their previous incarnation, The Great Tyrant. Listening to the Tyrant record, which I reviewed for the FW Weekly, I was reminded of how thoroughly these cats and their late bassplayer, Tommy Atkins, had digested and transcended their influences (Magma, Scott Walker, Suicide) and what a powerful unit they were onstage. Got to dig 'em on vinyl now, because you'll never hear that music live again.

Pinkish Black's music is as much a refinement and focusing of the Tyrant's strengths as the Tyrant was of Yeti's: an amalgam of gothic, prog, experimental, heavy, and even twisted pop influences; Daron Beck's an expressive but underrated singer and composer, while Teague's a drummer of singular intensity and force who also has interesting electronic ideas. For my money, they're the most imaginative and diverting thing on the boards in DFW today. Individually, too, they've been busy of late: Daron vocalizing with Britt Robisheaux's local underground supergroup Most Efficient Women, Jon playing in a Monster Magnet coverband with Ray Liberio, Frank Cervantez, and Linc Campbell.


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