Friday, May 8, 2015

Unsane -- The Gearbox at Lil’ Nikki’s, May 18, 2005

The P.A gods couldn’t take it anymore. After 15-odd years of abuse, the tables were about to be turned on Unsane’s Chris Spencer, Destroyer of Rock Club Speakers. No longer would they be the victims of the wall of noise called Unsane.

Doors were at 8 p.m. at The Gearbox. The first band, The Adversary Workers, didn’t go on until 10 p.m. That provided plenty of time to observe the little things that a concert attendee does when bored. Let’s go check out the merchandise table. Let’s get a cup of coffee. Let’s play some video bowling. Let’s check the merch table again. I think I’ll get another cup of coffee? Damn. It is colder than a witch’s tit in brass bra in here. Ah, fuck it, let’s get a beer.

Following their Collective Records brothers, The Adversary Workers (who brought the good noise to open the evening), came Belleville’s The Conformists. Simply put, the Conformists are good. Really good. One might think that many of their songs are improvised; however, as I observed, it’s a no-brainer that they got the shit down hard. On a rather lengthy number, it would appear that a cohesive melody was coming forward, only for it to collapse into a wall of schizophrenic noise. Shortly after the instruments would go silent and vocalist Michael would stand parallel to the mike, face contorted, furiously mouthing lyrics. More crash of drums, bass, and guitar and then you had near silence. Then, on cue, the melody would start again with fans wildly shaking their fists in time, for they knew what was coming all along. Mighty impressive the Conformists are.

The New Orleans drum-and-guitar collective known as The Blackfire Revelation is heavy rock stripped down to its foundation—with a wall of amps stacked with a pair of antlers placed on top. Guitarist John Fields and drummer Hank Haney didn’t have a strip of pedals to trick out their sound, they just brought the rock. Nothing fancy, just plug and play. One should keep track of BFR for they are definitely a band I’m going to check out the next time they pass through town.

Unsane took the stage around 12:30 and, after some final tune-ups, busted into “Release” from their new LP Blood Run. That was when the gods struck as Spencer blew out his amp. Justice had at last been served. However, this in turn caused a delay as BFR’s John Fields swapped in his. Once the technical problems were fixed, the set began in earnest again. In their hour, Unsane played ten songs, seven of which were on Blood Run. As 1:30 a.m approached, they dipped into some old favorites, ending their set with “Scrape,” “Alleged,” and “Empty Cartridge.” It was not the greatest Unsane show that I’ve seen, but who am I to complain?

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