egos/Bitchmouth/Window Liquor/Ask For Tiger
Monday, January 5th 2015
The Fuzz Factory, Gulfport, FL
Originally published at Zero Warning
Bullshit. It’s a term that a lot of different things fall under. One of the characteristics that’s appealing about punk, and traditional hardcore in particular, is that it allows no room for bullshit, at least in theory. Everything unnecessary is stripped away. The bands at this gig all eschewed bullshit in their own styles, and I thought I would attempt to write about it in a similar, honorary manner. If you consider everything that isn’t necessary to be bullshit though, I’m fairly sure I failed when I started this rambling introduction. I might even be having a crisis right now about whether any of this review is worth doing. Fuck. Why are we here? …
Ask For Tiger start right at 9pm as I walk in the door. This is apparently only their second or third gig, which is probably the reason they don’t appear to have any online presence. In these times though, it could be considered a mightily punk showing of no bullshit. Ask For Tiger have long rock songs that vary without meandering aimlessly or outstaying their welcome. Having simply two guitars joined by drummer Caleb of UFO Sex Scene (how many awesome bands is he in?) gives them a dense sound full of great instrumental bridges. More bridges than streets, actually. Someone who didn’t get the memo that we’re meant to be asking for tigers is standing front and centre, wearing a bearsuit. “Do you know who the bear is?” “No, I was going to ask if they came with you.” I did come across this one piece of footage of AFT, though it’s from an earlier performance at Fuzz Factory, so it is free of both bearshit and bullshit. And tigershit.
Despite their name the first of the touring bands, Philadelphia’s Window Liquor, couldn’t be said to share much in common with Aphex Twin aside from an affinity for images of children with disturbing faces (look at that demo). Then again I haven’t heard much of the new Aphex Twin album, so you never know. Making a din of punk clangs, distortion and drone all wrapped in a shroud composed of the gnarliest bits of Nirvanaaahh shit the singer has shaggy blond hair, it’s too damn obvious. After a while bassist Astro Spacebag drops his still whining instrument and storms out into the crowd, before getting back on stage, opening a Budweiser and throwing it right over the top of his head at the whole lot of us (specifically me). This sort of thing might explain why guitarist Johnny Trash often appears to be tonguing his microphone as he sings, playing the part of lager licker rather than liquor licker. At one point the noises are the wrong kind and WL stop to get some help from their tourmates Bitchmouth, who have lent them a piece of equipment. Then they restart and so does the odd Cobain-like behaviour, with everyone wandering around, Trash disappearing off to the toilet during the final song, then appearing to my immediate left clapping during the final wall of distortions. I’d question whether all this buggering off and weirdness indicated that they didn’t even want to be here, but apparently it just means they were enjoying the venue, and presumably going off on little explorations of it.
I’m worried that the next act, Virginia’s feminist hardcore finest Bitchmouth, might be set to increase the unrest built by the preceding band. “Where’s the bear!?” comes the demand from all the touring musicians. An attempt to placate them with Fuzzy, the Fuzz Factory money box, ends badly for him when chants of “That’s the wrong fucking bear!” are followed by the opening chords and he falls from an amp to his unfortunate demise. I still feel bad about putting him there. There’s little time to mourn though, as before Bitchmouth are even done with their first 90 second hardcore blitz the space is being dominated by moshing furry beasts and guys going crazy because there’s no liquor or windows anywhere in sight. Warehouse! Part of the bearsuit ends up on vocalist Kelsey Hulvey’s head, turning the band temporarily into Bearmouth. Raging music is being presented in such a fun way, with an ill-advised pit exploding above the concrete floor (Warehouse!), that for added safety is now coated in a layer of beer, beer that’s been flying across the room at a rate not seen at a gig since I was back in England. Roaming trashcans, pain and bedlam, the set is over way too fast and before anyone is really able to get hurt (thankfully). If I had to guess at the circumstances under which I finally met my decade-long Livejournal friend Rachel Sparkman (Bitchmouth’s bassist), I could not have come up with something better. The two groups have just released a split EP.
If there’s a creative place with less window dressing bullshit than old school hardcore, its noise. Some might argue that it’s shit minus the bull, but they’d be missing out. On quick are noise-punk band egos, who bring the evening’s theme to a perfect close between their genre choice, name choice and once again, lack of internet fluff choice (that link is a free WMNF session). The vocals are buried deep under the instruments, and there is little talking from the members other than “support the touring bands and Fuzz. Don’t spend money on other shit” (paraphrased due to an absence of total quiet at any point). They couldn’t very well stage banter even if they wanted to: only the drummer of the 3-piece is on the stage, a result more of practicality than grandstanding. None of the performers tonight had a lot going on in the BS department. This is something else though. They don’t even list their first names on their lowercased and minimalist Facebook page. I’d like to think that egos’ drive for egolessness is akin to All’s quest for ALL. Like folk music, you can delve and push the boundaries of noise using great skill, yet there’s also a straightforwardness to the genre that means anybody could realistically have a go. I’m not at the point where I want everything I hear to reflect this, and I’m far from saying that egos’ music is of the lowest common denominator; you could certainly do worse than listen to these guys when you’re feeling a bit out there. But it does indicate a kind of humility where you don’t emphasise yourself in your art, don’t lift yourself up by stepping on the heads of others, those currently unaware of or less impressed by their own talents. When they’re finished, the egos drummer does the opposite of a rock star, and throws his sticks backwards.