Saturday, June 10, 2006

this article was taken from the Independent;

Deadly Orifice, in Austin. Gimmicks are so smart.

The first 12 hours of No Future Festival—stretched last weekend on Friday and Saturday from 8 p.m. to sometime after 2 a.m. at Nightlight—were about a friendly scene: Some of the premier noise musicians in the world came together with their biggest Southern fans, crowding the already occupied by-day used book-and-record store. New friends smiled, musicians sold merch and crowds listened.

Friday night, the forcible static squalls of Pedestrian Deposit—a frail kid named Jon Borges from California, leaning over a square table of pedals—flung the room into fits, a group of 30 kids crowded around him and moshing in waves to a rhythm that didn’t exist. Saturday night looked like an upped-ante continuum, with some of the genre’s weightiest performers—Carlos Giffoni, Aaron Dilloway, Hive Mind—playing some of the most precise, exhilarating sets several in the crowd had ever seen.

But, in the 13th hour, two days of brilliance turned on itself, turning the club’s floor into shambles and its denizens into confused, terrified or exasperated bystanders of bloodsport. During the closing set from Macronympha—a shocking, turbulent, two- to three-piece that seldom performs more than three times each year and fueled this year by a guest appearance from Dominick Fernow of Prurient, one of the smartest, most capable minds in the genre—people started to pay special attention to a guy named Robert, standing just behind the stage.

On Friday, blood had been trickling down his brow. On Saturday, most spectators not colliding into one another and thrashing about the room as Macro played watched more confused than shocked. His entire face was caked in blood, three-quarters black from cuts, save the bright-red spots still streaming. He repeatedly lifted his shirt up and cut his chest in more than 50 horizontal lines, clutching a can of beer in a paper bag with his other hand.

After Macro’s set, a woman named Nicki, who had spent most of Pedestrian Deposit’s show shrieking and riding someone’s back, plugged her guitar into a batch of pedals and an amp. Before she started playing, Robert began kicking her in the chest, yelling at her as everyone else in the room wondered what was happening. She yelled back, eventually turning the amp and guitar on and letting the pedals induce a boring, clipped stream of feedback. Rodger, another musician from Macro, joined her with a sampler. She put the guitar down and started fighting Robert, her bloody assailant. She grabbed pieces of 20 glass panes and a dozen five-foot fluorescent tubes they had brought. She bashed them over his face. She didn’t stop.

For the next 30 minutes, the scene—the performers and 10 spectators too dazed or too ecstatic to know what was happening—joined the most brutal, horrifying half-hour I’ve ever seen. As a mindless, shrill loop pierced ears, Robert and Nicki—he calls himself Deadly Orifice from Dallas; she calls herself Wilderness from Austin; they call this band Bloodletters—attacked each other and the audience with glass and anything else they could find. People broke bottles and attacked others. He slammed her head into a concrete floor. She cracked light bulbs across his eyes. He picked her up and slammed her down across his knee before throwing a sheet of glass at her chest. She picked up pieces of a splintered table and clobbered audience members.

At one point, she was on the floor, the single still point in a sea of under-foot broken glass and frantic feet. I was convinced that she was going to die. At one point, he stood naked in the middle of the floor, a piece of glass in each hand, neck splayed up toward the ceiling. I was convinced he was going to kill himself.

Eventually, someone managed to kill the sound in the room and turn the lights on. She jumped up, saying “Give me a broom. I’ll clean it up,” as if the whole thing had been a joke (or, worse still, a piece of art) meant to shock fans who thought they were ready for a free-form noise festival or meant to broaden the scope and in vitro impact of the genre. Five kids who had been dancing carefree throughout the entire festival confronted Robert both during and after the performance, shocked by his violence to the point of fighting. He scared them away: “My father fucked me everyday when I was a kid…. Come on, there are five of you and one of me…. I have AIDS.” Maybe it wasn’t a joke or art. Maybe it was, after all, a painful-to-watch release from people who have issues beyond most peoples’ comprehension.

I’ve spent the past three days debating those and other explanations with the friends who peered with me from behind bookshelves as these two beat and cut, quite literally, the blood out of each other. One friend insists it did exactly what art should: It elicited a reaction and demanded a re-evaluation of what one supposed one knew. I agree that, on those terms, Bloodletters could be seen as some new, fucked frontier.

But because those other explanations are as valid—that this was a joke meant to shock or that the members of Bloodletters are just more than a bit insane—that artistic expression explanation fails. Anyone who sees hyper-violence as high art, at this point, is just an idiot: From Rome’s practice of capital punishment as top-notch thriller ethos to today’s prime-time television shoot-’em-up principles, extreme violence performed by people on people is the overplayed stuff of braindead simpletons. In fact, hyperviolence has been parodied consistently for decades, most notably with Burgess and Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange in 1962 and 1971, respesctively.

Sure, such mayhem is an enjoyable concept for those with too little excitement in their own lives, those who want to get more adrenaline and satiate animal instincts. That’s not art, especially when it’s set to the masturbatory banality of a thrown-down guitar feeding back through pedals, and especially after actual artists took the room to new places of sonic awareness and possibility.

For instance, Aaron Dilloway—who got marginally famous as a member of Wolf Eyes, a noise band that signed to indie stalwart Sub Pop—made compelling sound by running an eight-track deck, some mixers, two contact microphones and a piece of magnetic tape in his mouth played with a violin bow. He grabbed a bottle of beer from a fan and spit a swallow back in his face, climbing on top of his table, forsaking the sanctity of his equipment to push the audience to increased excitement. No one got hurt. Everyone got amazed and happy. It’s one of the best sets I’ve ever seen, with more energy than a Lightning Bolt exercise and more sound than a good metal show.

Dilloway, like the other best performers at No Future or in the noise niche at large, possess incredible theory of mind, a psychological concept meaning you know what you’re thinking and are aware of what others are thinking, too. They understand the prototypical forms that have been presented to their possible audience, and—from their own experience with such forms—they know how to turn a vehement attack on those forms into a lasting, affecting piece of work. Some bands use theory of mind to find a popular appeal. But this is subversion at its best: Like punk rock before it, noise is a genre about individual liberation. But its chief efficacy as communal expression is in the notion that others are available for a trip on liberation from the same restrictive parameters that you are.

Saturday night, honestly, I only wanted liberation from Bloodletters and the mindlessness of performers that need bloodletting gimmicks because their music and mindsets are so rife with insincerity and so low on innovation. True, if you’re as chemically phased and maddened as Deadly Orifice (he claims he’s a pharmaceutical guinea pig, and he ended last year’s No Future set by masturbating in the middle of the room), maybe it takes beating the fuck out of a woman to find your jollies or to fulfill your muse. Or maybe, in her case, it takes being beat. As she put it days later on a message board, “I have to admit I pushed it a little bit… cuz i hadn’t played live in months. I don’t know what got into me- I can’t narrow it down to just being violent, you know?”

I saw some truly great work at No Future Festival this weekend. I also saw some truly derivative flotsam masquerading as elevated expression. I’ll never look at anything the same way, but I also hope I never have to look at the latter—Bloodletters, Deadly Orifice, Wilderness, anyone who sees hyper-violence as something that culture needs more of—again.

On the surface, I hated it because it scared me, and no one (Giffoni, Dilloway, Jessica Rylan, Xome, everyone in the crowd) enjoyed it. But I’ve enjoyed being terrified before. Really, Wilderness’ performance echoed no spark of creativity, brining about no recognition and destruction of common forms and inspiring only disgust among those with a predilection for skewed entertainment. Few things are more orthodox in American culture than hypersex and hyperviolence mimicking meaning. This performance was nothing more than perpetuation of persecution by pop culture, a vacant excuse for art amidst a group of people who know it when they see it.

this, by the way, is Robert;

i used to talk to Robert over AIM. i can assure you that this guy is for real. he also can be rather brilliant, albeit a little severe due to his mental problems. i actually had some really interesting and memorable discussions with him about such mundane sources of "hobby" like pro-wrestling and serial killers.

it's quite disturbing to me that when people see someone like this, who is unafraid to bleed or destroy himself and others for reasons that though seem alien to us, make perfect sense to him, that the first thing we do is write it off as an act or an attempt to get attention. Robert's no idiot...he has to know he's going to get attention. what seems to drive him crazy is people's unwillingness to ask or to listen before formulating an opinion. i'm sure i'm wrong, but that's what i'm going on, and i can relate to that as i'm the same way, althouth on a much more mild scale.

i'll give unlimited kudos to BLAST BEAT (the actual name of the group, not "the Bloodletters") for making this indie-rock faggots as terrified and uncomfotable as possible. remind these arty-fucks where they are, a goddamn harsh noise show. i'll take two people blading/fighting eachother to a soundtrack of oppresive guitar noise over a bunch of Death Cab for Myspace looking mother fuckers standing around playing with pedals and cables and calling it "art". the desire to be "likeable" or "comforting", more like the idiot notion of what being "likeable" and "comforting" is, is what makes so much of the music/art/literature out there medicore drivel. you need people out there to incite, to inspire either the revulsion of the weak/ignorant or inspire others to incite. you can't run from reality forever, seeking consolation and refuge in the arms of the non-threatining.



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