Among underground music enthusiasts, one of the most incendiary record labels has always been Minor Threat/Fugazi front man Ian Mackaye’s Washington D.C.-based imprint, Dischord Records.
Among the bands currently signed to the label, Black Eyes is considered the most exciting; many even think they’re destined to follow in Fugazi’s footprints as the country’s ultimate indie rock band. Enthusiasts of Black Eyes also consider them, first and foremost, a live band.
Their Feb. 13 performance at the First Unitarian Church did nothing to disprove this opinion. It’s just too bad none of the opening acts did the same.
Experimental music is perfectly acceptable. If everyone did the same thing, music as a whole would be boring. But random, irritating noise is unacceptable.
Air Conditioning, the first opening band at the show, played just that. Honestly, their set resembled nothing more than 30 minutes of gut-crumbling feedback, with little or no percussion, or breaks between songs.
There was also a keyboard, which mostly struck a single sustained note for the entire set, resembling a smoke alarm going off inside the venue.
Experimentation is what makes music exciting, but this band sounded more like a bunch of college kids with too much time on their hands.
The next act, Kuyo Butai, was also experimental, but in a more enjoyable and minimalist way. A stripped down duo of an upright bassist and a drummer, this group offered an interesting take on a familiar music form (rockabilly).
A local band called Need New Body played next, and saying that these guys were weird and out there is an understatement. Need New Body consists of a group of middle-aged men who wear tribal looking ponchos onstage and play with petrified wood while they make bizarre, synthesizer- based music. If you are into music that resembles one big acid trip, this is the band for you. If not, be glad you missed it.
The main attraction, Black Eyes, almost made up for the inconsistency of the opening acts. Black Eyes, like their opening acts, are an experimental act that mixes up their onstage instrumentation with a combination of two guitarists, two drummers, a bassist, and even a saxophone.
Their sound most closely resembles weird, chaotic, demented dance music, and their large group of loyal fans danced up a storm at this show, illustrating their support. In the middle of their set, the band also invited audience participation. They threw pieces of an old battered drum kit and some sticks, into the crowd, and the audience was invited to take part in the percussive mayhem.
Based on this performance, no one that is into fun, cutting-edge music should pass up a chance to see Black Eyes live. Certainly, no one in the crowd at this particular show seemed disappointed. But, next time Black Eyes comes to town, it may behoove you to show up late.
Chuck DelRoss can be reached at cdelross.temple.edu