OOIOO at the Knitting Factory
Date: Tuesday, March 20
Opener: I.U.D. (featuring Lizzie of Gang Gang Dance)
Better than: The guy playing the Peanuts theme on electric guitar in the Astor Place subway this morning.
A little background on this vowel movement. OOIOO is all-women Japanese avant-noise freakout starring Yoshimi P-We, the awesome lady-drummer from the Boredoms and Free-Kitten Kim Gordon collaborator. The very same Yoshimi who may or may not be a muse for what will surely be a very ridiculous Aaron Sorkin musical that will hopefully involve lots of balloons and dancing furries. So while the rest of you were watching fake Asians headline the Mercury, the rest of us (okay, just 199 of us, according to the Knitting Factory’s total-capacity sign) were watching the real thing further downtown. Not sure which one of us had more fun, but since you can’t be hot because you’re not fly, I’m gonna say me.
OOIOO rarely tour. But in support of their most recent Thrill Jockey release TAIGA they only have six U.S. dates scheduled, the first of which was last night’s sold-out show. Probably the most enthused people on the planet about this were the two members of openers I.U.D., one of whom is Lizzie Bougatsos from Gang Gang Dance. What could loosely be defined as I.U.D.’s “set” starts out with Bougatsos spacily mumbling about how OOIOO was one of the catalysts for forming this all-caps “band” or whatever you want to call two bass drums banging like they’ve finally gotten each other in bed. For the next 30 minutes, Lizzie moans on-and-off like a voodoo witch trying to expel your gall-bladder demons while her Miranda-July-ish companion does things like huff into a miked noisemaker-horn. Then they trade off cannibal-feast break-beats with tribal “Snarly Yow”-ish rhythms that gradually accelerate into a go-faster-or-you’ll-be-glue cavalcades.
If Lizzie would shut up and stop moaning, I could really get into this. Instead, she pulls out a recess-duty whistle and blows, blows, blows. Yes, right now, she blows.
Anyways, after all the free prophylactics in SXSW, I half-expected I.U.D. to fortify the sold-out crowd with free contraceptives; alas, there isn’t even any free ear protection. And holy unbalanced equilibrium, I could dearly use earplugs for OOIOO. I mean, I should’ve known better to belly up to a stage bearing Yoshimi from the Boredoms, but damn, she has a way of fucking with your hearing that even beats the cold-metal-screech of the Downtown 6 pulling into Union Square. Y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y! she squeaks, silver Danelectro shimmering onto the face of a kid behind me holding his ears. Y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y! Ow.
It would be pointless cacophony if it didn’t have a kind of atonal composition. But it does. Like when they fall into these dancey polyrhythms, reggae jams filtered through J-punk discordant fits, OOIOO are like the avant-noise Slits. Certainly helps that Yoshimi and the rest of the stringed instrument section came out dressed like peasant chambermaids working on the set of the Cut photo-shoot — raggedy aproned frocks, white-knee-high tights. Or that their four-note guitar-lesson sequences endlessly loop like post-punk riffs running sprints, quarter quotes dropping into eighths, then halved into sixteenths, thirty-seconds, sixty-fourths, ad infinitum:
Deee-dah-dah-dah. Dee-da-da-da. De-d-d-d. Dddd. Damn, OOIOO’s even good with consonants.
Previous experience: I’ve driven through O(H)IO.
Personal bias: I’m an experienced trumpet novice, repeatedly practicing such monumental tunes as “The Entertainer” and “Taps” from third grade until junior high, so any lady with a brass instrument is okay with me.
Random detail: Hate to bust an ASSH-OLATOR cap in anyone’s ass, but have you read the allmusic.com entry for OOIOO? “Suffice to say they’re one of the most dynamic bands on the underground circuit. Not in the way a mid-level purchasing director would be described as dynamic, but in the way a ballistic missile would. . . Plus, they’re fun with a capital PH.” WTPH?