Better Than: A loud-rock band that’s actually “into weed and wizards and dragons and shit.”
Maybe I’m just trying to make myself feel better, but there’s something oddly fitting about taking the G-train shuttle bus and then walking eight long avenue blocks to arguably the least public-transport-friendly venue in the city to see a band called Whores. A band with not just a patently offensive name, but a patently offensive name with a period at the end (presumably to be doubly obnoxious), playing proudly outsider music at a proudly outsider venue within whiffing distance of Superfunded Newtown Creek. I mean, absolutely nothing else about this is easy, why should getting there be?
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It was worth it: St. Vitus is one of the greatest clubs in the city and it was packed with a Whores.-mongering horde. Anyone who’s thrown out a neck muscle to Helmet, the Melvins, and choice shards from the Amphetamine Reptile catalog will be hit in that same sweet — actually I guess it would be sour — spot by this Atlanta outfit (“‘Hotlanta’? Dude, that’s like saying ‘the Big Apple,'” singer/guitarist Christian Lembach told a crowd member). Pulverizing power chords, eardrum-rumbling bass, barked vocals and best of all a crushing power-groove aimed straight for the neck and shoulders make a slow headbang almost involuntary. They’re all killer musicians — drummer Donnie Adkinson has his snare drum set approximately 14 inches from the floor, presumably so his sticks have even more downward velocity — but the star of the show is bassist Jake Schultz , a tatted badass who spins and stomps and kicks and spits all over the stage, head thrown back with a beatific smile like he’s getting the greatest blowjob ever.
While there are some hilarious song titles (“Tell Me Something Scientific,” “I Am Not a Goal-Oriented Person”), the lyrics are pretty much what you’d expect, with Reznoresque chants like “I hope this breaks your heart!” and “Burn your body! Burn it clean!” There aren’t tons of hummable melodies but that’s kind of not the point: This is intensely physical music, primal in a way that doesn’t so much fail to engage the conscious mind as override it: There are hooks galore in the riffs and grooves but nothing you’d sing along with; it aims straight for the id, stimulating it like some sadomasochistic aphrodisiac. Whores.’ catchphrase is “Good times, bad vibes”; the tags on their Bandcamp page are “neo-monolithic noise rock rock noise rockpigfuck sludge sludge punk Atlanta.”
In its review of the band’s latest EP, Clean. (yep, another fucking period), Pitchfork slammed Whores. for their music being “workmanlike” and basically not elevating the art form. Whatever. Idealism is great, but I can’t say it was top of mind in the heaving pit at St. Vitus, with beer being sprayed from two directions and some gloriously low frequencies rattling the sternum.
Overheard: “I’ve got that Melvins shirt!”
Random Notebook Dump: “Still mad about that Pitchfork review. The last time a band truly combined heavy and heavenly it was called Nirvana.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 8, 2014