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The Pork Torta, Che's Lounge, Saturday, May 17

One of the greatest thrills from watching a band like the Pork Torta at a venue like Che's Lounge is the aspect of subversion. Sure, the band's been around forever and its fans were in attendance, but as Johnny Rotten once said regarding the Sex Pistols' sole American tour (which bypassed punk hot spots like New York City), "Always go where you're not wanted first."

The Pork Torta can be enjoyed as the most superficial of Saturday night entertainment but the treasures in its music are revealed the deeper one chooses to dig into it. The act of subversion comes into play when the majority of the audience in this setting wouldn't know the body of work of seminal krautrockers Can (the Pork Torta's most obvious forebears) from, well, an actual can. But the Pork Torta effortlessly manage to be more accessible—while remaining every bit as avant-garde and challenging—as Can. And that provides an explanation of how Lucas Moseley—who is among the greatest drummers I've ever been in a room with—and his beats function as both complicated polyrhythms and straightforward dance floor fodder, meaning it's not necessary to be a music historian to enjoy them. This also serves as a guardrail into the band's absurdist and Dadaist aesthetic.

The trio's first set primarily consisted of jarringly short, angular funk instrumentals, easing folks who might not be familiar with the band's profound weirdness into what was to come. Though the material didn't feel artistically compromised whatsoever, the first third of the performance put the adage "Give them what they want so they will want what you give them" into action. It worked.

The following two sets showcased the band's definitive appeal, which is unassumingly, and likely unintentionally, combining the sounds of chiming mobile devices, traffic jams, construction sites, etc., that serve as the incidental soundtrack to city life. The Pork Torta articulate the unpredictability of modern existence by fearlessly embracing it: group vocal chants that resembled children's nursery rhymes more than anything else, startling interruptions of unexpected tempo changes and blasts of noise, those unforgettable rhythms, and the dichotomy of bar rock trash and high art.

More by Joshua Levine

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