Brooklyn concert impresario Todd P books for some fairly unusual venues, from kitchens to churches to tents set up in construction sites. The latest as of last Friday is Above the Auto Parts Store, a self-explanatorily named site in an emptied second-story parking garage on the edge of Bushwick. It’s a cavernous space, but a fairly necessary one when you’re going to be setting up a Lightning Bolt show. If you’ve ever seen the crowd at one of these you’ll know that they probably shouldn’t be playing in anyone’s kitchen. Above the Auto Parts Store also has the distinction of being one of the most plainly audible venues I’ve ever heard from outside — much to the apparent puzzlement of the people hearing the Apes from the gas station across the street as I arrived.
I hadn’t been sure I’d catch first openers the Apes, but by the time I’d finished locking my bike to a street sign, I was already glad I’d made it in time. Hypnotic drums and bass swirled behind singer Lucious Twilight’s timeless post-punk falsetto yelp, occasionally emerging in big, chunky melodic hooks. Eyes closed and frequently doing some sort of rock limbo as she played, the keyboardist seemed as caught up in her riffs as the audience.
The Apes have been described as “primal” but ante on primal rhythms was soundly upped when Aa (pronounced “Big A Little A”) took the stage with, yes, three drummers. That’s one more drum kit than last time I saw the band (opening for Magik Markers and Thurston Moore project Duck a year and a half ago) and two more than would fit on stage at once. Backed by only the lightest of keyboard noises, electronic effects, and occasional chanted vocals, Aa managed to make raw rhythm almost the entire show here, spinning out highly coordinated wheels of interlocking tribal percussion, stick hits, and even alarm bells (a drum kit innovation I’d be happy to see more of). And they have a new album out, as of a month ago.
It was getting later and temperatures in the second floor space were rising, but the crowd packed back in for Japan’s DMBQ, back in the states for the first time since a tragic tour van accident in late 2005. Described to me as “basically Led Zeppelin”, I was rather perplexed by the several minutes opening noise washes which sounded more like something I’d expect from their countrymen, drone-metal rockers Boris. But then things got moving, and yes, it was pure rock, just spewing from the dual-lead guitars and bass albeit filtered through an Acid Mother’s Temple-esque wall-of-psych-noise angle at times. But rock can be defined by its mannerisms and showmanship as much as my music, at times, and seeing the drummer set up his kit and stool on outstretched hands in order to play the final drum solo suspended on top of the audience — that was about as rock as it gets.
Finally, temperatures peaking at something comparable to the surface of the sun in the dead of summer (though concert orangizers heroically staved off heatstroke with free, cold water), Lightning Bolt took the stage, having covertly set up during the DMBQ set in another part of the enormous space. The Providence noisepunk duo has a fairly legendary live show, and the usual accoutrements were all present: Brian Chippendale battering his drums with a seemingly unsustainable speed and ferocity while yelling incoherently through a microphone sewn into his ski mask (you think you were hot, just imagine how it must have been for him in that thing) and Brian Gibson spraying molten bass out over an audience who responded in kind by surging and crashing amongst one another in a one of the finer examples of the mosh pit arts that I’ve had the privilege to observe. Though my own forays were limited by the need to keep my camera relatively intact, I have reliable reports of the guy who kept punching people (and eventually got knocked flat, to his apparent approval), the tiny girl who rushed through the crowd throwing elbows, the inevitable guy who tried to stand stock-still in the midst of it all protecting his girlfriend from getting bumped. Prepared for anything, Chippendale ringed his drum kit with a crew of volunteers who held it upright in the gale of bodies, and the duo played on, generating far more noise than appeared possible from just two, until late into the night.