The first time I saw Lightning Bolt was one of the most intense shows I’ve ever seen. The Providence, R.I., duo was part of a 2002 package tour with like-minded Noise Rock bands like Arab on Radar and headliners The Locust.
While one band was finishing their set on the main stage, drummer Brian Chippendale and bassist Brian Gibson had quietly set up their gear at the back of the room in the small warehouse in Louisville where the show was. As soon as the other band finished on the main stage, an unearthly bass-and-drum racket exploded; everyone turned around and, drawn like metal shavings to a magnet, surrounded the duo as they produced their unique brand of frantically experimental music.
Gibson stood mostly still as he strangled alien tones out of his bass and effects pedals while Chippendale flailed wildly on his drums. Heads were bobbing to the choppy rhythms, but people exchanged quizzical looks since no one could figure out where the vocals, barked out in a distorted cadence, were coming from. There was no microphone. That’s when I realized Chippendale, wearing a creepy, patched-up ski mask, had a microphone over his mouth inside the mask.
Yeah, Lightning Bolt definitely sticks out from most bands, in sound and appearance.
Formed in the mid-’90s when the two Brians met at the Rhode Island School of Design, Lightning Bolt are touring in support of 2009’s Earthly Delights, their fifth record and first in four years.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.)