A Study of RRIICCEE at Eyedrum in Atlanta, Georgia by getzsch
The definition of irrational public behavior is probably something along the exact lines of attending a Friday night musical performance at the Green Room on Bleecker Street and expecting to see the band’s guitarist get a blowjob onstage, but people usually think of Vincent Gallo as being the irrational one. Similarly, you could call the fact that he spent most of his band’s set on his knees an apt reversal, but it’s not like he’s the first rock musician to adopt the pose.
Anyway I remember liking Gallo’s last record for Warp, Recordings of Music for Film, and I also remember liking Hole, and so the potential for eight inches was probably only the third or fourth reason I went to see RRIICCEE, Gallo’s new band with Hole’s Eric Erlandson.
Still, Gallo being a narcissistic guy is the gist of the evening. There were a couple of merch guys selling “one of a kind found articles” (i.e. lost-and-found street garments) “hand silkscreened by RRIICCEE” for 50 dollars—shades of Vincent Gallo’s $3,000 Childhood Hopalong Cassidy Bedspread, available online accompanied by a letter of authenticity, or more infamously, the $50,000-$1,000,000 personal services offered to any “naturally born” female. As far as the actual noise goes, RRIICCEE’s music trends somewhere between a trebly Slint with no real basslines and an inferior drummer and a less lush MONO or Explosions in the Sky, punctured by a set-closing Gallo falsetto. This mattered to the genuine spectacle insofar as there wasn’t much spectacle to be had, so at some point listening was inevitable.
But what you didn’t end up hearing at the Green Room was more suggestive: the visible dissonance of forcing a veteran arena man like Erlandson to play minimal art-rock instead of big melodic chords, or Gallo’s repeated pleas to an already dazed Rebecca Casabian on keyboards to play “Slower!” She resembled any number of put upon and be-lipsticked Mark E. Smith keyboardists, and like Mark E., Gallo has burned through any number of musical collaborators prior to RRIICCEE: Sean Lennon, Jean Michel Basquiat, Lucas Haas, etc. Which is no surprise for someone who’s been trying to talk himself into suspecting or outright hating Jews, gays, African-Americans, and liberals for the last decade or longer. Quoted in this paper’s Brown Bunny review was this paradigmatic Gallo comment on collaboration: “The question is not how did I do it all myself: It’s, How did I put up with the incompetence of the people I had to work with?” (Also contained within this same review is the world’s best summary of the Brown Bunny’s plot using the fewest words, e.g. “The film finds Gallo driving alone for 100 minutes, then forcing a torturous blowjob on Chloë Sevigny.”)
So Gallo gives good quotes, although I didn’t ask him for any. His shows are more about self-presentation and Rene Ricard-esque unpredictability in action than how well he plays the guitar, and though I thought his band was alright I don’t think many people would listen if not for celebrity diorama that RRIICCEE cuts onstage. Once it became clear nothing beyond effects pedals would be twisted, the bathroom trips got frequent, and rather than ducking when moving past the stage on their way there, people tended to slow down and gawk, as if they were at an aquarium and the band behind glass. It’s tempting to further the metaphor and note that the downtown New York of which Gallo is an undisputed graduate is like this too now, but for all I know Sonic Youth played the same underwhelming set in ’81.