You tell me: Would presidential protest–noise act Dead Bush make a better case if “Dead” meant “Grateful Dead cover band” and “Bush” meant said cover band only played Bush’s “Machinehead”? Hard to say when only one DB showed up for the gig. Stuck to the chair, chinstroked over his soundboard, the Montreal artiste eschewed the usual clangy impeach-by-volume assault in favor of fleece-soft, snow-white noise and garbled George W. samples that peeked out from time to time, but never over the room’s chatter. The point came easy: Never has a president abused public address more than this current one, with fireside chats so nightly we think of him as just another malpractice lawyer in a budget commercial, not the World’s Most Powerful Man. Bush should have been louder, but he wasn’t.
Not Republicans, just Romantics, Brooklyn duo Mouthus spent their set trying to liberate the voice Dead Bush trapped in the speaker. Assisted by San Francisco’s Axolotl on violin and vocals, the group amassed a shitload of stuttering keyboard, clarinet, and voice samples, stagnant and uncooperative like a night of Ouija. The spirits game is a patient man’s game, though. When the oscillations finally canceled each other, all that was left was a shell of overtones and brushed metal. It sounded like the F train pulling into Broadway-Lafayette, or a long, pissy walk across the Williamsburg Bridge when the trains aren’t running.
So wait a second. When did Mouthus get so cocksure and unshakable and good? Last time I saw them, lead mouth Brian Sullivan threw one big-ass tantrum ‘cos his guitar’s distortion pedals petered out—shameless prom-queen shit that sent a mic stand into a fan’s skull. Now he’s smooth-playing woodwinds, his cheeks blown out dizzy despite everything his grade school music teacher told him. Call him Brooklyn’s Kenny G, or fun-poke for how he’d hold a long tone, wait, then nod approvingly when the delay kicked in. But “hacks” and “jerk-offs,” once choice descriptions for Mouthus, don’t seem to apply so much anymore—though the drummer should stop twirling his fucking drumsticks already.