Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Paean to Thee Televisiong Host

It seems to me as though another reappraisal of certain deviant sonics had rolled around, and that within the straitjacketed confines of Punk Rock™ there'd been, on the part of certain subsections of its adherents, some allowance and even appreciative space made for bands whose bodies of work had, prior to now, been tagged as too "noisy." Modern acts like Pissed Jeans and Clockcleaner exemplify the latest in a continuum of musical activity stretching back through the previous two to three decades, wherein a cadre of bands renowned for their aggressive, abstract, and decidedly non-uptempo responses to the initial bursts of 70s punk plied their trade. To mention just a few of the woolly many:  Texas' Stickmen With Rayguns, the earlier work of Maryland's No Trend, the oft-mentioned and referenced Flipper, the severely echo-damaged and also Bay Area-n Church Police, etc.

Due to many of these bands' rediscovery through reissues and/or file-sharing, I came to believe that the stage was set for a very successful first night in Minneapolis for Indiana's TV Ghost, a young quartet with the requisite elements for a faithful cover of something like "96 Tears" but with a collective sight set a few clicks closer to the dense propulsion of Miles Davis' "Rated X" or the Red Transistor seven-inch. Though they were slated to play at a basement venue well-known as an outpost for more straight-ahead and at least nominal punkish Rock, I suspected that the outright sense of dread kicked up by the bands above mentioned as well as TV Ghost, feeding as they did what I thought was a new-found local appetite for aggressive bummer, would resonate with most of the people at the show.

I am pleased (though simultaneously disappointed in the lack of openness among the assembled Twin Cities punk rockers that night) to report that TV Ghost bummed out the squares. Saddled both with playing last on a four-band bill as well as technical problems with the bass, the Ghost delivered on the promise of what I'd heard online: a guitarist/vocalist who let off shards of dissonant, vaguely surf-inflected guitar and unsettled shouting like he was struggling with whether or not to shake off both his instrument and his flesh; a keyboardist who attacked what remained of his synth with his knuckles in a similar manner to what I imagine Adele Bertei's was when she was a Contortion; a rhythm section that held the other wild, narrativizing elements together while both smearing the low end and steadily agitating the high.

At the start of their set, there were about thirty to forty audience members still in that basement. By the third and fourth songs, the number had dwindled to about half a dozen. Both dismayed and thinking people had left due to how the late in the night it was, my friend and I bought a record of theirs and headed find the entirety of the audience, in testament to the possibly diminished though still extant power of certain genre practitioners to drive away the more doctrinaire of the bunch, upstairs commiserating away from the din of a totally young and righteous band

---Some videos from YouTube


1 comment:

  1. when they played in montreal the singer/guitarist sliced his head open right before they started (knocked it on something sharp). he then covered his head in duct tape and put on what was probably the most high-energy set i'd seen all year , despite the rivers of blood pouring down his face.
    it was amazing and terrifying . ohhhhh youth!