Spirit In The Room With Of the Dark I Dare, DRUG, The Great Sadness At The Satellite, Wednesday September 13th 2017
I was recommended to attend this all-indie-band show at the Satellite on Wednesday night, and even though it’s always difficult to go to bed so late in the middle of the week – the show started at 9 pm and there were 4 bands playing – I don’t regret it a bit… What would be life without these moments of sonic discovery? Just an endless and pointless repetition of work-eat-sleep-work? No thank you, so I left the Satellite around 1 am, tired but happy to have sacrificed another full night of sleep.
Of the Dark I Dare had no guitar or bass, just synth, electronic and drums, plus Tracy Lorin, a dynamic frontwoman whose powerhouse vocals were like light slowly filtering through darkness. The result was theatrical, often dramatic and sometimes sinister, with truly unusual tones and vibrations while Tracy was at times adding a few electro beats to the already loud and pounding drumming, What I got to read about them on line mentions dark forests and the appropriate expression ‘pop cemetery’, as the haunting atmosphere they installed gave the chills, and the lorgan-like keyboard loops played by RickEy Lumpkin II had even a sort of Skeleton-Tree-Bad-Seeds feel. They played a new song called “Sleeping Bodies’, but all set long, their atmospheric and cinematic soundscapes was like a soaring cry of human longing in complete darkness.
As DRUG‘s frontwoman said they was coming from Joshua Tree, it seems that they had brought all the wildness of the darkest parts of the desert. Their sound was actually tricky to define, part collage, part exuberance and chaos, with a few eccentricities I had never seen elsewhere. First, Jamie Hafler was playing a double neck guitar/bass, assuring a double role in the band, while singer Cristie Carter was manipulating pre recorded tape loops using a strange and archaic machine on the side. She was wearing a large black cape with feathers and a hood, looking as much as a crow she could, while desert scenery projections in the back was completing the surreal Mojave desert ambiance. Despite the live instruments, their druggy and loud sound was dominated by noise, throbbing beats produced by drummer Theo Smith, and overall a post-punk-inspired weirdness, while Carter’s aggressive stage antics and bold croon exulted rawness. Their first song was like a lost tape of the Doors backed up by looping experimentation, but the rest was not the expected stoner rock that usually comes from the desert, it was by far much more experimental and totally unclassifiable, although their moniker, DRUGS, written in capital letters, was bringing us back to the source: the Californian high desert, where imagination runs wild, and where consciousness merges with supernatural.
Spirit in the Room electrified the room with an opening song that seemed to be borrowing from punk hardcore. At first, their sound was as loud and aggressive as something coming from Refused, filled with wallpaper-scratching distortion, an abrasive bass and frontman Dennis R. Sanders shouting spoken words with a rare coldness or screaming above a chaotic industrial throb. One thing is certain, it is an interesting challenge to categorize Spirit in the Room’s sound, it was hard and inhabited by a punk fury as the three men were constantly moving and getting on the edge of the stage, but there was also a great love for modernist industrial soundscapes in all this, as they sometimes sounded like a colder and more experimental version of Nine Inch Nails. They stayed in full assault mode all set long, with bold roaring guitars, showing they never wanted to lose touch with the harshest version of rock ‘n’ roll you could imagine.
The Great Sadness played after midnight and what a shame this is! I was about to leave when someone told me how great they were, so I ended up watching the mighty duo’s entire set, with Cathy Cooper on vocals and guitar and Stephen McNeely on drums. Cooper’s vocals moaned, roared, boomed and slaughtered the place, reaching some beast-like levels mid set, while their badass bluesy sound was exulting apocalyptic visions of the desert. It was as intense as a punk rock show, although their stage moves were minimal — she even sat down with a lap guitar for a few songs — while the music was blending metal doomness with mysterious delta blues echoes. I would even say that she sounded the most ferocious and visceral when she sat down. The Great Sadness may have been the rawest band of the night, the most emotional too but none of the bands let their aggressiveness down, they fought against the world, life and death, angry as hell till the end. They are so many to be angry these days, but staying angry is the hardest part.