So this has been a new thing to me: Noise Rock and Shoegazing. At least as categorized by those words. In hindsight I can perhaps lay claim to being drawn to the ‘noise’ part of a few songs here and there since a long time. But I have begun to explore this genre and the bands in earnest only for the past couple of months. During my exploration, I came across this:
Well, what can I say? I was just drawn to it. I have never had anything assault my hearing senses so much. (OK maybe Justin Beiber but that was another extreme. More on him later). This, my friends, is pure and unadulterated ART.
And if you can listen to it for 10 mins straight while taking in the true essence of the lyrics, you are a true art connoisseur.
In all seriousness, Whitehouse is an extreme noise music group. You will need to look into something more survivable if you want to keep exploring the genre. And it was around this time that I got to know that this group of 3 noise rock bands were playing at the Mews in Des Moines on Sunday night.
First there was The Vandelles. Loved the sound and loved the drummer. She looked like she was totally where she wanted to be – behind the drums and in the zone. Judging by her expression, I don’t think she wants to do anything else in life – which is totally fine by me. Here is a sample:
But I wanted more noise – as in more noisy noise. Fuck, this can be an infinite nested loop.
Then came the band I was looking forward to see: LSD and the Search for God. Not as much noise as it was shoegaze. But fuck genre naming, right? I had already ordered their LP online before I saw them Live. This is real stoner sound. Not of the weed kind, obviously. But who am I to judge? The lead singer – she has the voice of a seagull. And they got their shoegaze distortion and looping spot on. That voice, the pedals, the effects, the drums, the distortion and the bass formed a beautiful end product that was both sufficiently noisy and refreshingly new. Think of the Silversun Pickups but only with a more generous dose of noise and shoegaze and more awesome vocals.
Then came The Telescopes. OK so there was this bit of mishmash between the bands with some members playing for more than one band. So I could not say who was ‘supposed’ to be in The Telescopes and who was not. I know for sure Stephen Lawrie was in there. And he sang with such intensity that I think he would have probably passed out of dehydration if he kept that up without beer consumption at regular intervals. No, seriously. I have not seen anything like it. I have been to dozens of concerts of all kinds but I have not seen anyone get so fucked up just singing their own songs – and this includes my religious experience of watching Sigur Ros Live. This man just had to go to a different plane to get all that emotion into his screaming vocals. In the end, he just collapsed on the floor out of exhaustion. (Then he got some beer)
And as far as the sound goes, well, FUCK! I felt that I had finally got what I was unknowingly looking for all my life. That one sound that would just ‘hit the spot’. The Telescope’s noise and shoegaze hit the spot alright. And more importantly, it opened me up to a whole new set of bands and sounds. Perfect Noise and mindblowing Shoegaze.
It was about 1230 in the AM when the show was over and I knew that I would be partially impaired in my hearing for the next couple of days. Insignificant side-effect of noise, really. But one thing I was certain about. Noise rock and shoegazing is one sound that you do not want to miss out on experiencing Live. There is simply put no way anyone can reproduce THAT sound on a CD or an LP.
All in all, eye opening show and meant a lot more to me than many of the other concerts I have been to.
At this point, I cannot escape from mentioning the fact that there were all of 5 people (including me) that was at the show – that is if you do not count the bandmembers themselves. Serious. No jokes here. These folks are on a nationwide tour and decided to stop over in Des Moines on their way to Detroit. And they had all of 5 people listening in. Granted this was the day after 8035 Music festival – Des Moines’ biggest musical event of the year – and there was Brandi Carlisle singing a few blocks down the road, and there was not much time for publicity due to the relatively late announcement of the gig. But I would have still hoped that more people showed up.
Specially in view of this, I have to give enormous credit to ALL the bands for playing through the show like they were playing in front of hundreds of die hard fans. I know there is an element of professionalism that every musician learns to develop but it appears more commendable when you actually see that in practice. It does not take much to get motivated to put on a show in front of a large crowd. But when you are in front of 5 people and a bunch of fellow touring bands, it is a different story altogether.
So to members of The Telescopes, LSD and The Search for God, and The Vandelles: Thank you for stopping by in Des Moines and putting on an excellent show. Trust me. Des Moines is way better than this and I hope to see you here again under different circumstances. For what it’s worth, the show made a huge difference to me and you have a fan.
Just one other thing before I sign out. A few blocks in one direction, there was Brandi Carlisle playing. A few blocks in the other direction, there was Justin Beiber playing. And due to his now-well-documented late appearances on concerts, the Beiber show got over around about the same time as the one I was attending. This inevitably led to me being in the midst of a swarm of teenage girls while I walked to my car. So there I was, wearing my Led Zeppelin shirt, coming from an ear assaulting noise rock show that had just thrown me in a whole new direction in music, and then I was surrounded by dozens of giggling, texting teenage and pre teen girls wearing I Heart Beiber shirts. I swear to God somebody definitely thought “Hey here is a guy who came to the Justin Beiber concert wearing his Led Zeppelin shirt! What a douche!”
Guilty by association I guess. Well, FUCK.