Club Congress, Friday, April 23

Exactly how many amps does a guitar/drums/vocals duo need to perform live? A minimalist would say one, for the guitar--the drums and vocals are run through the monitor, thus more than one amp isn't necessary. Georgia duo Jucifer--singer/guitarist Amber Valentine and drummer Ed Livengood--then, would have to fall into the maximalist camp.

When they performed at Club Congress last Friday, you couldn't see the stage curtain behind them for the wall--and we mean wall--of amps they had stacked to the ceiling. As one clubgoer put it, "I guess when you've only got two people in your band, you've got some extra room in the van." We're guessing they had to bring an extra trailer along. Which, of course, raises the question: Why? We'd heard before that the band performs at a deafening volume, but the sound emanating from the stage was most certainly coming from the house speakers, not their un-mic'ed amps, so what's the point?

We're either supposed to believe that they need all those amps to be badass, or it's total over-the-top shtick. Either way, it doesn't work. We already know they don't need all those amps to be loud, and if it's a gimmick that's supposed to be funny, the joke is completely lost in the music, which is meant to be deadly serious.

How else to explain the humorless, Melvins-esque sludge rock that the band trudged through, song after interminable song? To be fair, there were moments when the chemistry between the two members was electric--both are excellent musicians, and each seemed to know what the other was doing at all times, sans eye contact--and Valentine sometimes sang sweetly through the mess. But mostly, it was just one big, unintelligible blast of noise, forsaking the newfound sense of dynamics found on the duo's latest full-length, I Know You Destroyer and follow-up EP, War Bird.

Next time they bring that van--and trailer--through town, we recommend staying home and dusting off those old Black Sabbath records.

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