Meat Beat Manifestos
Experimental musicians tend to take themselves pretty seriously—which limited the pool of acts promoter Steven Cohen had to choose from in assembling Greenpoint’s three-day Beer and Sausage Festival. But after whittling down a list of fringe dwellers willing to play second fiddle to smoked kielbasa, Cohen crafted one of the most refreshing, least pretentious events to hit town in quite a spell.
Wednesday evening started out promisingly with Andrew W-K’s thrash-karaoke display, wherein he and a pal simultaneously channeled the Karamazov Brothers and Rudolph Grey. After a show-and-tell interlude from Georgia homegirl Irene Moon, Athens’s Melted Men brought a bit of Vegas (and a heaping helping of Devo’s Akron) to the house. Scheduling problems forced Melted Man Chris Cogan to configure a solo set via homemade costumes and loopy synth-tones that explored issues like pork shoulder (given a hearty thumbs-up) and ingrown toenails (an emphatic thumbs-down). Cogan proved particularly popular with the Polish National Home staff, who emerged to bask in the spectacle—only to wisely hightail it back to the kitchen when confronted by the heavy-handed multimedia shtick of People Like Us. Fortunately, Crescent City entertainment machine Mr. Quintron rebuilt that cultural bridge with the oddest campfire sing-along the Newtown Creek has ever seen.
The tenor of Thursday’s bill was more aggro—if not always more engaging. Hopes heightened by the sight of a gnarled hippie type hawking Electrophilia CDs were brought to earth by the duo’s assaultive-yet-rote amp noise. Flux Information Sciences, the most straight-ahead rock band in the fest, split the difference between Adrian Belew-ish prog-pop and Cop Shoot Cop-styled tribal thud. Brits JanskynoiseˆSpeedranch might have been a passable Suicide tribute band—if they’d only learned that Vega and Rev were rooted in soul, street savvy, and songs, not silly party tricks like trash-can tossing.
To quote Depeche Mode—a fine idea on most any occasion—headliners To Live and Shave in L.A. got the balance right: relay-race instrument handoffs, cheerleader frugging, and No Wave blurts (loosely) held together by sloppily charismatic “singer” Tom Smith. Although Smith bailed after half an hour, To Live and Shave soldiered on, members packing up and melting away until just the drummer was left, pounding away and singing Twisted Sister hits into a microphone clenched in his teeth.
And the sausage? Positively smaczny.—David Sprague
Though the four girls onstage nearly outnumbered those in the pit, the herd at last week’s Kittie show was otherwise about as diverse as Bowery Ballroom crowds get, comprising limp bizkids, Rapunzel-tressed headbangers, skaters, dreadlocked lads in Rage shirts, middle-aged bikers, and the odd indie fanboy. Kittie’s litter hopped in place patiently for first opener Relative Ash’s thudding Kornpone and only began shoving like they meant it during the earnest, testo-happy rap-metal of Workhorse Movement, whose catchiest ditty is anchored by the refrain “Keep the Sabbath dream alive!” The chant so galvanized the crowd that, once a few kids started scoffing at a girl in a Nashville Pussy halter who’d joined the widening slam-dance circle (“Hope she doesn’t break a nail”), it was worth wondering exactly why they were ready to smell Kittie’s magic.
Arriving to a chorus of “Britney sucks!” (the band members are all around her age) and opening with the title track from Spit, Kittie immediately established a stage demeanor that said both come-hither and fuck-you. Singer Morgan Lander squinted suspiciously at the worshipful crowd-surfing throngs while her sister, drummer Mercedes, hawked loogies over sneering bassist Talena’s head. The Ontario teens basically have one song: a roiling speed-metal implosion owing much to early L7, Lander’s schizo pipes switching abruptly between soprano keening and a degendered beastly roar. She’s most convincing not when singing vaguely about body image or bad relationships or something (in “Paperdoll”) but at the precise instant when her pretty voice splits into its death bellow—Hatfield to Hetfield. The pit swung happily between both poles, obedient to the girls’ I-hate-you-now-love-me commands; despite Lander’s entreaty to “kill each other” just before blasting open “Choke,” the crowd flipped their frightwig the highest for the chorus of “Raven”: “GET AWAY FROM ME! STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!” —Jessica Winter