Beginning with The Swans on Monday and ending with Zoviet France on Saturday, this was to be a week packed to the gills with quality and sometimes challenging listening with a bit of playing in between.
Monday: Swans and Carla Bozulich
SF Independent 9.8.14
Carla Bozulich was an artist I’d never had the chance to see perform. She was a friend of ‘Jane’ the early muse for Perry Farrell and very much a part of that creatively rich early-mid 80’s LA underground. I was just recently reading the Janes bio ‘Whores’ and she’s a featured player in that early part of the book.
She’s most known for her band The Geraldine Fibbers and the lesser known Ethyl Meatplow who also featured Johnny Napier who recently passed away (RIP). Johnny Napier was also in a short lived band with Chris D. (Flesh Eaters) called Stone By Stone, so there’s a bit of a musical family tree connection between us.
Carla’s set was dark and sometimes frenetic. She played abstract guitar sometimes singing through a low-fi mic drenched in delay, accompanied by her band who switched between various instruments consisting of synths, drum machine, bowed saw, flute (probably many more items) and both side players had drums which made for some nice tribal breaks.
The over-all effect, for me anyway, was an authentic representation of what was interesting and cool about the LA sound from those days when none of the bands sounded alike and there was a rich cross fertilization of art, fashion and decadence with a DIY punk ethic running throughout. Such a refreshing thing to hear that sound from someone who was there! Go see Carla if you ever get the chance, she’s the real deal!
It was a Monday night so I was already tired and feeling good and light like that, so when Thor (Swans percussionist/multi instrumentalist) came up alone and started a slowly swelling gong solo that went on for over 8 minutes, I was pulled right in. Eventually drummer Phil Puleo and Cristoph Hahn (Lap Steel guitar) joined in with more sweeps and ominous drones building up to the entrance of the rest of the band including Michael Gira who guided the dirge up and up leading right into ‘Frankie M’.
That whole gong intro into Frankie M. took us 36 minutes into the journey! Most bands are done by then, they were just getting started!
For the next hour and a half The Swans demonstrated their integrity and musicianship as they pounded out muscular dirges and suspenseful drones that prove why they are a lasting force in the world of industrial/experimental music. Though there is that element of experimentalism, they still maintain a rigid structure to the pieces and a solid rhythmic framework that keeps it moving along and keeps you engaged. Michael Gira also guides the ship in a very physical way with hand signals, sometimes leaping to emphasize a stop.
And we are saved!
Tuesday my ears still hurt after the ‘Aural Iron Man’ that was The Swans the night before, but I had to rehearse for Fridays show with my band Andalusia Rose. We ran our set once and also rehearsed an acoustic version of our set that will be debuted when we play up in Seattle on Sept 21st at The Mix.
Thursday I worked on Alphastare tracks and prepared for Friday.
Andalusia Rose w/ Fast Piece of Furniture
I was excited to finally meet Todd Swalla who was the drummer for Ohio’s old school Hardcore Punk band The Necros. We’d been in contact about doing a thing together for a few years and it was great to finally make that happen. We played second, and unfortunately I missed the opener as I had to go pick up my wife, so I’m sorry I have nothing on them besides that they were called Stephen Michael. I snapped a quick pic on my way out. Very nice folks.
Fast Piece of Furniture have a nice blend of classic rock meets a bit of a 90’s college rock without sounding dated. Excellent musicians and solid songs, check them out! We look forward to doing another show with them on October 10th at The Stork Club in Oakland.
I also unfortunately missed the last band that night as I had to beat tracks back to SF before the last train. They were called Picking up Pieces.
San Francisco Electronic Music Festival
Zoviet France are one of those mysterious, nebulous sort of acts that I never expected to get the chance to see, so I was quite surprised and pleased to hear about their rare appearance here in SF for the 15th annual San Francisco Electronic Music Festival!
They built up intriguing layers of sound using various samples, sound sources and processing. There was also an electroacoustic element with noisemakers and various reed instruments that sounded otherworldly when fed through whatever majik they had up on the table. The set lasted an hour and ended with some of the same sound they started out with, a little cyclical feedback blip, that closed the circle nicely. I went somewhere a few times during their set and what a treat to be able to experience them live.
On a related note, Zoviet France have been consistently and diligently releasing this weekly Podcast ‘A Duck in a Tree’ full of wonderful obscure ambient field recordings and other abstractions infused with some of their own stuff. Highly recommended!!
Zoviet France were the perfect end to the week, from one end of the abstract spectrum to the Swans at the other, who started my week.
If that wasn’t enough music action, on Sunday I went over to our producers place to listen to final mixes of the Andalusia Rose EP. We made some minor tweaks and solidified it. I look forward to the vinyl version with much anticipation. While waiting for files to transfer, we watched a bunch of Roky Erickson live footage and Some old Cramps footage while swapping stories and talking shop. There’s nothing like sitting in another room full music bio books and records and old tape recorders and other objects to look over and talk about. It’s good to feed the head.