photo by Rebecca Smeyne
THIS WEEK: Old Time Relijun swim through sweat
Before the gig, I traded with Arrington de Dionyso names we had in common. We agreed that Ari Up (The Slits singer) has quite some presence even now: he wanted to know if I’d seen The Pop Group play live (perhaps once, perhaps not, obviously not memorable): he wondered who Blurt were (demonic, genius puppeteer Ted Milton and his centrifugal saxophone – sax wielded as instrument of aggression, of avarice, not consolation). The Pacific Northwest got discussed as it usually does: my doppelganger, producer Steve Fisk, former Up Records impresario Rich Jensen. . . a shared moment at the (um, not missed) RCKCNDY underneath the bridge to Interstate 5 in Seattle. Oh wait, that was with stand-up bassist Aaron Hartman, formerly IQU.
Arrington drank Argentinean tea and offered ear-plugs. He solidified my Modest Mouse theory, by blandly announcing that pretty much every other band around today sounds like MM circa 2003. (I invented the year to add gravitas. He just said, “Modest Mouse”.) I was so pleased, because my Plan B colleagues look at me like I’m crazy when I compare everything—from Animal Collective to The Mae-Shi (and more, even!)—to Isaac Brock’s clan, their seasick swagger and elastic, toned rhythms. Guess some folk think all Ramones songs sound the same, as well. Not sure what my point is, except, “My, doesn’t all music sound alike when you’re not particularly familiar with it.”
We giggled at drummer Germaine Bacca’s heckling at the gaps in the support band’s songs, and…um, yes. Shared experience is nice.
He’d emailed to say hi the previous night, shortly before catching the ferry to Dover from Amsterdam. I’m quite the fan of his crazed, apocalyptic, dub-funk meets abrasive Olympia sound, and was looking forward to this show, second only to Sharon Jones last week. (No, he hadn’t heard of her, but perked up when I revealed she was a former Riker’s Island guard, or similar.)
None of this prepared me for the Old Time Relijun live experience, stood about as far from the band as you are from death. Dionyso, dressed in swimming trunks and clutching at his sodden T-shirt, veins throbbing like Calvin Johnson, regaled the tiny Albert pub with his strangulated, stuttering, stentorian vocals and thrashed guitar, while dual saxophonist Ben Hartman blew twin instruments of dementia (like every teenage Teenage Jesus And The Jerks fan dreamt of witnessing), Bacca did her fluid drum-hitting thing and the other Hartman pounded his elastic fingers into oblivion on the stand-up, raising weals on my calves in sympathy. A few of us swayed and danced staccato-style, and quite a few remarks were made by Dionyso, sardonically and with his eyes popping out, head to the side (again, like Calvin Johnson—my God, but does this man influence pretty much everyone who’s ever seen him!) about the moisture in the air and how it was making his guitar sound jazz and not like the records at all, and then he’d wipe his amp lead on his sodden shirt in a futile gesture and. . . wham! Off Bacca would go with another foot-tormenting beat, Hartman (B) pounding keep-up on bass drum, Hartman (A) possessed now in his merciless treatment of his instrument, Dionyso in another dimension altogether as he wrenches screams from parts of the psyche most folk don’t know exist…and, wham! Another tribal, guttural call to dance strikes up, and the moisture in the air congeals as one.
And finally we realise the truth. Far from being the worst-dressed man in the barn in his Speedos, Dionyso is the only one dressed for the occasion, swimming through sweat.
Hugs And Kisses Top 5
Five records Everett True wishes he could have listened to at the time
1. Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles
I have no idea what this sounds like. Quick someone, form me an opinion. I suspect they’re quite ordinary.
2. New Bloods, The Secret Life
I know what this sounds like – sex and secrecy and surprise. I just wish I’d been faster getting round to hearing it. Now Plan B refuses to run my review cos I’m too slow.
3. Portishead, Third
I have a fair idea what this sounds like—Portishead. (That’s a plus.) But I would also like to know how un-Portishead it sounds.
4. Times New Viking, Rip It Off
I know what this sounds like: noise and semen and youth let loose. I just wish I’d been faster, then I wouldn’t have grumped so when Plan B made it their lead, last issue. Nice choice.
5. Devendra Banhart, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
Oh Devendra. How can I have been so fickle?