The Rhode Island duo have a simple MO: Play loud, play fast, on bass strings and drum faces. A quarter century in, they’ve plumbed the depths of pace and volume.
They’ve remained true to their ethos, their sound, and their energy, and their shows persist as touchstones for punk ruckus. Their smash-and-grab sets flood the senses and flush the humors, and the ease of breathing slow in their tornado’s wake, with a trickle of blood or a ream of salt dried on one’s cheek, is uniquely satisfying.
Their waves shake bones and bludgeon brows and pummel skulls
Brians Chippendale and Gibson hammer out a lot of sound, on strings and snares and pedals. Name it gritty; name it brutal; name its furies frizzled or frenzied. State that its shapes tense, erupt, and thunder. Note the ways their waves shake bones and bludgeon brows and pummel skulls and smear guts high up on the walls, where you can’t scrub the stains away and wanderers-by wonder what went wrong.
Label its rhythms fit for savants or simpletons. Fit out its skin and sinews with the lingo of militarism: in the trenches, shrapnel edges, a drone exploding in a silent sky. But don’t dare to deem it noise. And spare it the posture of punk. Quit invoking Philip Glass and Metallica; they gave them up a decade ago. If you care to trace the jags of Lightning Bolt, then call them rock and roll.
They played in lightless allies and car parks and cellar parties thrown by art-freak peers
The drummer with a mic wedged tight in the craw of his burlap mask and the bassist stringing frets with cokemine twang came together in Providence a quarter century back, by the magnets of gossip. They played in lightless allies and car parks and cellar parties thrown by art-freak peers, down on the floor where skinny bodies would flail their beers and slip limbs akimbo and dent their kits by will-less dint.
Chippendale wails like a madman chanting nursery rhymes in the muffle of asylum, but unsense is human. Amid the foggy omens of grunge, their upbeat and beatup two-piece offered flashes of clarity. Mash the strings to keep pace with the cymbals, then drill the leather cylinders to echo over the thousand watt walls, back and forth and boundless. Play loud. Play fast.
Flood the moshing body with its own uppers
Make it up on the spot. Play louder: fuck it up at every tour stop. Play faster: flood the moshing body with its own uppers and flush them clear. Sit pure and hear the ringing vestige of the power when it’s gone out, as the air ripples tranquil in the wake of ampere’s fracture.
Play louder: go home and press the sweat and slip-ups down to vinyl when the fire lingers in you still. Break for a minute to salve the bruises. Play faster: mock up comics and chrome-plate video games. Think of trios and leads, stick to the simple dialectic of percussion, the primal verb that precedes the rigidities of speech. Do it again. Play louder: tour farther. Flip the finger to the real estate magnates pricing out your Sharpie’d dives. Reject the plaudits, shred the garlands from the tenants of those finger-licking pigs. Play faster: take the stage on festival bills when the bookers threaten litigation, milk their monies and blow out their stereos. Play louder: on and on.
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.