GWAR WITH DEVILDRIVER
Wednesday · Bogart's
"This isn't a fucking Rock & Roll show," GWAR lead howler Oderus Urungus growls at the very start of the band's first live album, Live from Mt. Fuji, amid a burst of automatic weapons, shattering glass and bunker busting explosions. "This is a war." That's a fairly apt description of the GWAR live experience, captured in all its brutal Metal fury on Live from Mt. Fuji and available every time the whole diseased crew brings its semen-and-brimstone stained tour bus through town. As bleak as the day-after Hiroshima weather forecast, as loud as an atomic test forced through a stack of Marshalls, as depraved as John Gacy's rec room, GWAR offers an unrelenting stage show with the repulsive theatricality of George Romero set to a blistering black Metal soundtrack.
Osama Bin Laden, Laci Peterson and Michael Jackson all make disturbing cameos on Mt. Fuji, which, as is noted in the accompanying press materials, was recorded at a concert two years in the future where GWAR face the combined strength of the Japanese military and police forces that try to stop the show with riot control methods and giant robots only to be overwhelmed by the band's Godzilla-like awesomeness and putrid live renditions of crowd pleasers like "Krosstika," "Biledriver," "Sick of You," "Horror of Yg," "Womb With a View" and "Bring Back the Bomb." Predictably, that zany Kim Jong Ill brings the curtain down on the proceedings with a nuclear first strike that vaporizes the band, its mutant Japanese fan base and the country's much-maligned defense capabilities. So don't miss your opportunity to see the pus-squelching majesty of GWAR before they disappear into the radioactive North Korean dry ice of their imminent doom in 2007. And stop by the merch table — when GWAR goes up in the mushroom cloud, this stuff could be gold on eBay. (Brian Baker)
BEHOLD ... THE ARCTOPUS, MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT, GHENGIS TRON AND TIME OF ORCHIDS WITH REALICIDE, DEATH BEAM, ULTRA//VIRES AND YES, COLLAPSE
Thursday · Southgate House
Right up front: This show is going to be an endurance test.
Not only due to the exceptionally long bill filled with eclectic national and local acts, but also because of the fringes of Prog Rock, Metal and Electronic Noisecore that the bands navigate. The flagship of the evening is undoubtedly Behold ... The Arctopus, a band that's every bit as self-indulgent as their moniker implies. Remember all of the '80s guitar heroes making crappy mainstream panderings and soulless Fusion that disappointed hardcore fans? BTA is the complete opposite of that. The instrumental trio's technical proficiency is pushed to ungodly limits, delivering perpetual fills and breaks executed with atom-shearing precision. The band boasts two guitarists, one on a six-string and the other wielding a 12-string tapped monster. The duality of their playing lends BTA's sound a fullness and jazzy depth that allows them to transcend other Math Metal proprietors. On both of their EPs (Nano-Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning and Arctopocalypse Now ... Warmageddon Later), both guitars seem to be soloing almost continuously while hugging jagged rhythmic terrain. It's a unique sound, but if you can imagine Steve Vai and Steve Howe jamming with Dillinger Escape Plan you're there.
Dayton's Mouth of the Architect is sedate compared to much of the rest of the bill, but there's no need to break out the Adderall; their melodic Sludge Prog is a hypnotic but ever-changing ride. The band hit the ground running last year, garnering a lot of critical attention with Time and Withering, their debut on Translation Loss Records. It certainly didn't hurt that MOTA features former members of Rune, a cult favorite of experimental Metal fans. This quintet favors lengthy excursions (the 40-minute album has only four tracks and no filler) with smooth, logical progressions and sparse vocals. The disc is an engrossing and organic journey, as the band lets the various sections of each song swirl on the palate for just the right amount of time before moving to the next course. Comparisons to Cult of Luna and Mogwai have also bolstered their underground following, as fans of such epic (and largely instrumental) music are conditioned to dig for new prospects and share them with like-minded listeners. With this impressive splash in the post-Tool pool, MOTA is looking to sustain their momentum by touring and getting to work on a new disc.
Genghis Tron is a band that's generated a healthy buzz despite the trio's short musical resume. The Vassar College students' music lives up to the tongue-in-cheek name, combining Metal brutality with Techno kitsch. Well, not really "combining" so much as toggling back and forth like some cracked-out Tarantino character trying to extract a confession. Their debut EP, Cloak of Love, includes everything from hyperkinetic IDM and dreamy New Wave to Math Rock and hellish Black Metal ferocity. It's like Skinny Puppy and Meshuggah in a cross-genre head cutting contest. Perhaps the most surprising thing about Genghis Tron is that they're an actual band, not the product of one brilliant guy's laptop wizardry. While this adds to the technical challenges of keeping these breakneck arrangements sounding tight, it does allow them to bring the power of live performance to bear (in almost every photo, vocalist Mookie Singerman looks as if he's just vomited a microphone), a dimension that all of the bands on this bill are exploiting to the fullest. (Ezra Waller)
LAB PARTNERS WITH TONEFARMER AND 1000 ARMS
Saturday · alchemize
With their flowing, dreamy take on AltPop, Dayton's Lab Partners have built a listenership and critical acclaim that stretches far beyond their Ohio homebase. Formed in 1998, the band gradually evolved to its current state, featuring singer/guitarist Mike Smith, keyboardist Amy Smith, drummer Todd Carll and guitarist Mike Volk (yes, despite their bass-y low-end, the band lacks a bassist). With 2002's fantastic Daystar album, the band's stock rose dramatically thanks to praiseful shout-outs from Spin and other national mags, solid radio support and opening slots on tours with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Warlocks (not to mention one-off dates with US Maple and Throwing Muses). The band has earned numerous comparisons to the archetypes of the "shoegaze" genre, from Ride to Spaceman 3 to My Bloody Valentine, and nearly all of them are fitting. The Partners are like a composite of the best elements of all the 'gazers, anchored by their own sense of melody and texturing.
For their new disc, Wicked Branches, they have moved from Dayton's Big Beef Records to Portland-based/RYKO-distributed indie Reverb Records (the disc is in stores July 19 but available on iTunes now). The album continues the group's trademark hazy but often punchy glaze, which takes the gauzy neo-psychedelia of the shoegazer sound and injects it with an extra "oomph" of melody and energy. Smith's vocals seem to be inching more to the forefront of the mix with every release, still sinking warmly into the band's trippy varnish (which also has grown more in-focus over time) but taking a more commanding role in the drizzling tapestry. Volk and Smith's guitar interplay switches between celestial chiming and more punctuating stabs, creating a riveting cascade that's equally powerful and lulling. Meanwhile, Carll is the perfect drummer for the LP sound, adding to the hypnotic nature by playing into and out of the cavernous dreamscapes with precision and flair. Smith's flowering keyboard additives, like the Dandy Warhols' Zia McCabe's, is the perfect cherry on top of the rest of the band's narcotic sundae. Look for Lab Partners' interstellar glide to attract even more fans with Wicked Branches, an even more amazing follow-up to a wonderful sophomore effort. (Mike Breen)