Rearranged Face, Flat Worms, Mind Meld, Shark Toys At The Echo, Monday February 20th 2017
Mind Meld’s residency at the Echo on Monday night was an evening of raw punk and even dissonance,… with the exception of Mind Meld’s own set. Four bands played till very late at night as usual, starting with Rearranged Face, a guitars-meet-electronics quartet who was effectively rearranging the space around them, with no real melody in sight but only dark, monochord, part half-spoken, part-screamed vocals. Using an electronic table, two electric guitars and drums, they were making very dissonant, borderline avant-garde music with numerous assault-like parts, but around the noise, the distortion and the aggression, there was a true unruly punk spirit. I realize this could also describe many other bands, so let’s say they were looking to be more and more bizarre as the set was progressing, with an abrupt and angular sound, a dissonant and wildly experimental electronica, revealing little by little a fear-in-the guts. Their sound became more and more anxious and scary, as the singer was moaning, groaning, screaming over a cacophony of hypnotic punk music.
Flat Worms gave us much more accessible music – although I saw many people dancing to these Rearranged Face experimental rats – still brutal but very powerful, with big choruses inside a thick fuzz of loud guitars and heavy drumming. Their songs had big hooks, and I wonder why they called themselves flat worms instead of hookworms because there was nothing flat in their music but plenty of hooks! With a real bravado in the guitars – and I mean by this that their sonic assaults had the smell of danger and annihilation – the trio was making the noise of an army. It was an empowering set if I have ever witnessed one, they were raging like a motorcycling gang, and if the band is relatively new, none of them is: guitarist/vocalist Will Ivy was in Dream Boys, Wet Illustrated, bassist Tim Hellman played with Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall, and drummer Justin Sullivan played with Kevin Morby and the Babies. You got it they were great, raw and unapologetic, sounding like a powerhouse, a tornado trashing the Echo with an irresistible air of triumph.
Mind Meld are playing every Monday at the Echo so you have one last chance to see them next week because they were another powerhouse mixed with a sort of 70s psychedelia on steroids. They played a muscular set, loud and fast, aggressive but very upbeat, a hyper-bright fury just like the white lights that were flashing in the back of the stage. Their brand of psych pop rock was heavy on fuzz and psychedelic elements, whereas frontman Bert Hoover may well be the new Ty Segall… and I am not only say that because of the way he was holding his guitar with the neck high in the air, he was shredding with a constant fight-or-flight response, mostly fighting against some invisible fury with his long hair floating and banging all set long. Some songs had poppy hooks but the whole thing was so buried in heavy riffs and loud fuzz that I didn’t realize this immediately. Groovy and bluesy, poppy and heavy, ripping and buzzing, these guys did not slow down a bit and very few songs let them really take a breath, but when they did, they showed their poppy side for a few seconds, before the guitars and drums would soar again in a glorious rock & roll moment.
Shark Toys were the most brutal of all the bands, although it’s difficult to tell after a certain hour of the night, but they had a mechanical violence, the type of crazy assaulting rage that you could simply call weird. They were smashing their guitars with a lightning-like energy and certainly without any pity, while screaming at our faces – or should I say barking? – with a Devo-like oddity. They shook the place upside down for a too short set – it was already very late anyway and I praise them to still have this can of storm in store around midnight! They broke a few of their songs in thousands pieces threw them up at the audience, brought a large dose of dissonance, mountains of distortion with funny toy noises and a fuck-you-all tone you could hear in the high pitch vocals of the singer (although I didn’t catch anything of what he was saying). They doubled their energy and volume mid-set, as if they were singing lullabies before and chaos was on our way.
It was a night to nurse your growing tinnitus.