Shellac, Chavez, Six Finger Satellite, Bricklayercake
3/28/95, Westbeth Theatre, NY
Bricklayercake: Todd's more sincere these days, but I'm afraid they've outlawed kazoos at the apocalypse. I spend my spare time building a vending machine for human heads and stuffing chickens for cash and this Kool-Aid won't even get me to the toilet and back. I need Todd to hire fifteen guitarists, treat them like dogs and make them run through "O.D. Catastrophe" for seventy minutes. You do too.
Six Finger Satellite: I like SFS because I like the idea of Devo in a '57 Chevy trying to run over the members of Tsunami. SFS are "hard" because they're perverse, while Helmet are boring because they're built like wonder loaf. SFS conjure that private meltdown where you rent a car, buy a gun, and drive through the lobby of Time-Warner, shooting everyone who's got a suit or ponytail. You yell out, "I like marketing because I like people!" and "I'm happy to file as long as I'm learning!" before putting that last bullet in your head. Best band of the issue.
Chavez: Chavez have exactly one good song, but bigger minds than yours have nixed the one-song CD, so I guess that leaves you home weeping in your flan. They've got two guitarists and James Lo, but it would take the Glenn Branca orchestra to hide those bleeding hearts, and the best vehicle Chavez can muster for their maudlin droolings is a third-rate Live Skull minus six of Tom Paine's fingers and all of Mark C. Everyone in the band is pushing thirty-five, making it well past the time for them to be locked in a room and forced to make music for RRR that sounds like a jet crashing into a chandelier factory. Silly rabbit, punk is for kids.
Shellac: More art formalism, but Shellac's fans want "grunge" the same way Fugazi's fans want "punk", so I guess I'll call it new wave and be done with it. Albini did a one-note startstop with Trainer for ten fucking minutes, but after watching everyone mosh to "My Black Ass" I'm sure they wish Albini would stop rubbing the constructed aspect in their faces and give them the straight-up rock product they need for their slacker lives. Albini's always been a tinker-toy nerd, assembling songs the way most people make a sandwich, but usually he's managed to hide the seams with distracting cartoon elements (huge bass, oafish drums, kerchinggg guitar). The difference between Shellac's successes and failures is the difference between Steve Albini, calculated genius and Steve Albini, genius calculator, and either way what you get is a mirror version of Ministry. A1 Jourgensen wants to make machines, but the subtext of all his songs is love of the boot and fear of the boot, which has nothing to do with machines and everything to do with irrationality. Albini wants to make rock, but the subtext of all his songs is love of art and hatred of art, which has nothing to do with rock and everything to do with deliberation. Don't think you didn't want to know this.