Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Caroline, The Love Below, Yuin @ The Laughing Horse, 1.16.12

Laughing Horse Book and Film Collective is a small but respectable book cooperative on 10th and Burnside, in SE Portland. Its an all ages venue, featuring mostly punk hardcore metal-ly things, which is so freakin' essential in this town, as it seems almost EVERY venue is a fucking bar. What are 18 years old supposed to do, smoke meth and stab grannies? On this Mon. evening, they got to rock out to four pretty legit bands.

My friend Leland plays in Caroline, who played first. Seeing as how i like the kid, and i know he's got good taste, and i already liked his guitar playing, i was predisposed towards liking his band, but i cannot ever completely check my journalistic integrity, and even if i like you, there is no guarantee i will not be disgusted by the music that you make. Thankfully, Caroline sounded really good this evening, so i didn't have to come up with nice ways of telling my friend his band sucked. I could definitely hear some of the influences i know Leland is into, i.e. Dinosaur Jr., Pixies, Place to Bury Strangers, Sunny Day Real Estate, in short angsty twitchy post-grunge, wiry and high-strung, this is the fury of a generation reared on adirol and japanese cartoons, 4 loco and marijuana and the confusion of being a young adult in a world where anything is possible, but nothing seems plausible. They absolutely TORE UP their fucking set, tight and intricate, sounded pretty rehearsed for being a shambolic spazzcore band, but i thought they sounded best when they were tearing into leaded metal shreds, like Dinosaur Jr., and the vocals veer too close to pop-punk screeching for these ears, and i would like to see them explore more of the shoegazery/slacker vibe. For a moment, Leland was writhing on the floor and it seemed like a bit of a spectacle, a bit of a put on. 'Here's the part where i'm supposed to writhe on the ground,' which may be authentic at other times, but it didn't last long, and they tore back into some unbridled pummeling, before too long. These guys have been playing a lot, getting a lot of shows, and they are definitely worthy of yr time and attention.

The second band, Yuin, were mostly a by the book speedpunk band, with some 'core vocals, which is really two strikes against yr band, in my world. However
they were genuinely antagonistic, 'what's the difference between jam and jelly? i can't jelly my dick down yr throat!' and then SLAMMING into brutal waves of sonic terror. You could tell the young, activist types were kind of offended, and then succumbed to the sonic violence. It was sort of beautiful, and i was reminded for the second (and not the last) moment why the hell i loved punk rock at one point. I probably wouldn't listen to these guys on my own time, that much, but i would see them again live.

After a string of pseudo-core bands, i was rather surprised by The Love Below, who were mostly a terribly legit thrashy trashy sludge metal band. Sort of reminded me of like Botch or Cave-In, that leaden post-hardcore thing, which is as alien as a Giger print to me, but fascinating and heavy as lead. They got the crowd going, and the Laughing Horse degenerated into a (mostly) good natured mosh pit. I managed to lose my glasses and all forms of government identification, not to mention my last two bucks, so i decided the whole night was officially rock and roll, and was satisfied.

I kept having this sense, this subliminal impression, during the whole evening, of young folks, tearing at the bit, just RACING into the future, trying so hard to be legit, to be tough and hardcore, even though their voices had barely changed, sometimes. Its like, yr 18, but you've already seen so much, possibly travelled to other countries, cut their teeth on every culture, and bombarded on all sides by their own. They are old souls, but they are still prey to the confusions of young adulthood (no web site to google yr way through that one, sorry bud.) and i was really moved and empathetic. In their fury, in their attempts to shock, to awe, to be legit, to not give a fuck and channel the powers that course through every rock n roll band, i felt set free. I no longer cared that i was probably 10 years older than the average mean of the audience, and that i am a speedy, twitchy borderline homeless music journalist, and just thrashed like i had a car battery connected to my spine. If everyone is afraid to make a spectacle of themselves, then there would be no bands.

The Love Below

edit: apparently i switched around two of the bands, which means that Yuin were second and The Love Below, which means that The Love Below has beautiful, mutant album art and plays awesome sludgy post-hardcore, which makes them pretty much aces in my book. I think they're on tour right now. Check 'em out!

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