This Little Underground
Bao Le-Huu takes on Two-Man Gentlemen Band, Woodsman, Swans and Sir Richard Bishop
Published: September 22, 2011
It happens this time every year, but it still quickens my pulse to see the autumn concert calendars blossom with primetime national talent all over the city. Get up and get out more.
I’ve written tons about NYC-born Two Man Gentlemen Band and how good and entertaining they are, but it’s great to see a colorful and worthy band that’s been working hard to break into Orlando finally kill it last weekend and stuff Redlight Redlight like a buzzing hive (Sept. 16). It was far and away the most packed show I’ve seen there. And despite the unusually crowded conditions, the audience just would not let them leave the stage. They’re a hundred times sharper than those other overcooked comedy bands out there, and I’m glad Orlando’s getting hip to them. They’ve been coming here for a while but it looks like they’ve finally arrived.
From here out, it’s all maximum atmosphere. As Denver/Brooklyn rock machine Woodsman (Sept. 11, Will’s Pub) began plugging in, I could see two drummers and two guitarists. I liked ’em already. But once they actually played, that like quickly became love. Their two-pronged advance features airy, psychedelic lines that wind in the ether and tease the frontal lobes while a throbbing, penetrating spine drills into the base of your skull. That relentless rhythmic core comes via two full drummers who play together like Siamese twins set to a Swiss timepiece. Together, through very well-defined roles, this group achieves both atmosphere and propulsion. Woodsman’s music is the kind that takes you somewhere, somewhere high and far and loud.
On any other week, this performance would’ve owned. But this week, a hundred-year storm blew through (Sept. 13, the Social). NYC legends Swans began almost 30 years ago and only recently came out of a hiatus more than a decade long, but any signs of either rust or irrelevance were categorically, mind-meltingly nonexistent. Even before they stepped onstage, their large instrumental setup was already exotic and intimidating in its inert state.
But once the music began, it was Oh … My … God.Their intro casts you into an uncertain sea, floating helplessly but submissively, intrigued to see what becomes of this alluring dread. It’s a primordial drone that induces the kind of trance known to remote mountaintop monasteries,not downtown rock clubs. And it suspends you there for about 20 minutes until the band plunges in, making you duck under the waves as the titanic barge rumbles over you in agonizing slo-mo, its prop splitting the ends of your hair. Each time they rise up, it’s essentially like an F-5 tornado trapped in a concrete box. Squashing all reason and leaving only blissful sensation, roars this legendary and stentorian are typically the domain of only the most assertive shoegazers.
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