Friday's show at Solar Culture was criminally underattended but at least half-long on creative provocation. After a short, convivial opener of playful knob-twisting by the duo of Genetic and Metrognome, San Francisco's one-man wrecking crew Eztiger assumed center stage. Taking the one-man-band concept to its logical end, he thrashed on guitar, bass, drums, effects and howling vocals, all looped into an aggressive roar with an overtaxed delay. With his back to the audience, sweat and hair flying, Eztiger is not aiming to win any popularity contests; it's not pretty, but it's definitely effective.
Fellow San Franciscans Le Flange Du Mal (a clever moniker for any musically adventurous Baudelaire fans) made considerably less racket as a four piece, showing a nice flair for composition and structure--you know, songs. With an electronically processed trumpet, tight drumming, jumpy keys/synths/fx and shouted vocals kicking up dirt right and left, they easily swung from fast, furious and funky to more mid-tempo and methodical. Visions of dinosaurs marching or drunken elephants passed through my head. Hmm.
Tucson's dark genius Not Breathing--mainguy/mainstay David Wright and tonight's collaborators Karl White (Metrognome) on laptop and Bruce Brindamour on effects-laden didgeridoo--is one of those acts that most towns have that fly largely under the radar at home, but possess considerable reputation elsewhere, in this case internationally. It's hard to overstate Wright's enormous, arcane, blackly humorous gifts as not only a musician but also as an inventor, builder and modifier of electronic instruments and effects gear. To see what I'm talking about, check out www.carrionsound.com, and take a deep breath. With a huge, homemade synthesizer that looks like an old-fashioned telephone switchboard looming over the stage, you just know something original is in the air. Live, Not Breathing's sonic collages are dense, multi-layered and intensely physical. You can literally feel the music in a solar-plexus-rattling shroud that envelopes mind and body alike. With rapid-fire percussion blazing like a machine gun, cavernous deep bass drones and an unholy (but precisely modulated) electronic squall marginally grounded by the processed didgeridoo, Not Breathing is an enthralling and immersive experience. There's something pure and cleansing about their shows--I always walk away feeling like my pores have been opened up and scrubbed clean.
FYI, Tucson: Greatness lives amongst you.