Back Then Forward, To Bombay Harmabee, Hypercolor, & Azores

March 7th, 2015 · No Comments · By


After the show at the Teahouse Wednesday I walked back to Nailgun Headquarters and immediately started writing a post entitled “Fuck You, Charlottesville”. I quickly realized that it was going to be hard to follow up on a title like that; it gives you no place to go but down. And also that it might not be a good idea, at such an august and respected website, to blog while intoxicated, whether on whiskey, music, beer, or heartbreak. Or, as the case was, all of those. So that idea was abandoned. But I just want to say… Oh Charlottesville, that show was so great, you should have been there, and you weren’t. Not all of you should have been there, that would have been uncomfortable.. But maybe twenty people? Enough to form a crowd, more than just the scattering of bodies that were there. Over a thousand people came to the Paramount to see Gov’t Mule Friday night, paying a lot more money, some driving hours to get there. Why not twenty, or even thirty, for Yonatan Gat, and Big Weird, and Ministroy? (Not the most harmonious collection of names, I will admit.) Three completely different acts, each completely satisfying in its own way.

Ministroy sounded like some of those slinky, pulsating, mysterious compositions of John Zorn, writing for strings and percussion. Very much looking forward to hearing more of Chris Dammann’s work in the future. Big Weird played the simple, direct, straight-up rock that, when you hear it, makes you wonder why don’t all bands play like this? why don’t they stop messing around and get to it? Their set would probably have gone over even better with a tight-packed crowd of boisterous partiers than it did to an empty room marginally punctuated by aging misfits.

And Yonatan Gat, along with Gal Lazer on drums and Sergio Sayeg on bass, tapped directly into the Primal Source, the Godhead, and let loose Its Energy in a spinning spiraling multi-hued  pinwheel of ecstatic sound. Forget I even mentioned superficial wankery — I was unhappy with that post immediately after I put it up and then again after I took it down, revised it, and put it back up (despite its excellent points and, as it turned out, uncanny prescience). This was no superficial wankery, this was hardcore deep-diving fuckery. The skill and flourish of the musicians was not a mere display of technical virtuosity, but the organic expression of of the energies being channeled, driven not driving, the musicians made by the music, the players given over to the play. Like everything good.

When I told Yonatan Gat that I was sorry there weren’t more people there, he replied, with quick and firm confidence, “It does not matter.” And because he said it with an accent it sounded profound. Then I said, “well, thanks for playing like it did not matter.” And because I was drunk that sounded profound, to me. Now I am so sure of the profundity of this exchange. But maybe there is something there. And I remember that I heard Mike Watt say much the same thing, faced with a small audience (not so small as Wednesday night’s, it qualified as a crowd and I think someone even made an absurd attempt at crowd-surfing, but the room was much bigger) at Trax many years ago, while giving a similarly great performance. It is obviously the wise attitude for the performer and maybe it is for the audience member as well. Devotion to the music, detachment from the circumstances.

The thing is, we missed you. Music so joyful wants sharing.

Too late now, now we can only go forward to the next show. Of course it probably won’t be as truly great, you can’t expect that lightning to hit twice in one week at the same spot. (or can we?) But tonight’s Teahouse show has the promise of excellence and, given that it is the weekend, better attendance.

Hypercolor is another instrumental drums-bass-guitar group with another Israeli-born New York guitarist who has serious cred among those who know his work. This time that guitarist is Eyal Maoz. James Ilgenfritz is on bass. He composed an opera adaptation of William Burroughs’ The Ticket That Exploded. The drummer is Lukas Ligeti, who you may have seen when he came through town about five years ago. He is the son of the Hungarian composer. They are on John Zorn’s Tzadik label, and fit into that general Downtown avant-jazz-rock-etc. scene over which he appears to preside as Rabbi, Magus, and Stakhanovite-In-Chief. Their ecstasies may be more more muted than Yonatan Gat’s but they too are initiates into many mysteries and well acquainted with half the sounds you have never heard. Late tonight time itself will shudder and jump, crossing over to a new continuum. This show should give us good preparation for that, as these men are masters of time, in both its regularities and eccentricities, keeping and losing it.

There is nothing Indian about Bombay Harmabee, nor anything Portuguese about Azores. That is disappointing, but from what I have heard their music is not. They both inhabit, though in different neighborhoods, a large territory of indie American music, full of the bounce of pop vitality and also the threat of what a grinding guitar can do to a man’s face, that I find difficult to invade with words, even the most inappropriate words. I should probably try to get hold of whatever manual they have over at Picthfork, or learn how chords work. Until then, I leave it to you to follow the links above to discover the pleasures of these bands yourself.

Remember, the gnawing regret of music missed can haunt you for the rest of your life, and even after that, if you end up in hell.





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