Posted by: Necci – Aug 30, 2012
An evening at Gallery 5 is often a raucous one. Last Wednesday's performance by Lightning Bolt was no exception. The show opened with Richmond locals Navi. A high energy group, to say the least, Navi carries with it a strong local fan base, and this show reflected that. Not often is a room so packed for an opener, and show-bookers in the future should look to Navi to fill that early void. Below is a clip from Navi - a prog-fuzz duo that fit the bill well not only in structure (one guitar, one drummer) but also in tone. Powerful riffs over heart pounding drums create a ear-pleasing cocktail.
Up next was Dumb Waiter - a conglomeration of local musicians from other bands (Promethean, Street Pizza and The Jacob Spindel) gathered to perform a short set of complex prog jams. Lots of off-beats and fret tapping. There were some catchy transitions that stuck with me well after the show. But as with most prog bands, they end up sounding like just that - another prog band. Check out some of their set below.
Buck Gooter from Harrisonburg, VA, was an interesting spectacle. A rocky start involving a stubborn projection screen broke some of the early tension in the set. Two dudes, one significantly older than the other, make up Buck Gooter’s physical representation, and this contrast of characters matched the contrast musically - for better or worse. Pre-recorded drum beats held the tempo as the elderly gent strummed on his distorted electrified acoustic guitar. The lead singer, somewhere between strutting and falling around stage, yelled into the mic repeatedly, hearkening back to some kind of 2003-era rap-metal fusion. I took some comparisons to early Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails - but less positive. A theremin entered the mix on a few songs, but the only people who really know how to play the theremin are the people who invented it, and Buck Gooter was no exception to that rule. It wasn’t awful - what else is there to do in Harrisonburg except learn a complex instrument like the theremin? - but it wasn’t great either. Judge for yourself below.
Finally, at 9:30 sharp, Lightning Bolt took to the floor. For those of you who haven’t attended a LB show, it’s a baptism by fire. Loud doesn’t begin to describe it. Sweaty and moist are understatements. The Providence, RI, duo are known for high energy, rolling throngs of fans, and a generally intense auditory experience, which they delivered. It's kind of like a bar mitzvah band on ecstasy. Take a gander at the footage below. I apologize for the color and the angle, but if you fullscreen it, I think you’ll understand why I was afraid to enter the fray.
Overall, this was a hard-prog show that fell on its knees at points, but mostly held its head high. Navi and Lightning Bolt stood out as resounding riff masters - Navi seems to long for this connection, and they earned it that warm August evening. As for the rest, well, I’ll leave you to judge.
Lightning Bolt has a new album coming out Sept. 25: Oblivion Hunter. It's a rarities collection, which means you can probably find most of the tracks in similar quality in torrents from live shows. Buy their last album, Earthly Delights, and then consider digging up the other tracks. There is usually a reason tracks go “unreleased,” but we’ll find out if this applies this time around soon enough.
Words, Images, and Video by Brad Kutner