Thursday, December 17, 2015

Des Ark - Pygmy Lush - The City and I -- Comet Ping Pong - Dec 16 2015

by John Miller

The City and I - So things were looking pretty sparse tonight; strange considering the RSVPs for this show are absurd for the venue. Unfortunately I cannot find much info on The City and I, who begin this evening. Initially I was expecting a much more laid back set. The opening riff suggested slacker, or possibly garage but as soon as the drums kicked in, The City and I committed to something much more aggressive. The way those things are being pounded: wow. There are elements of Helmet here, the vocals and guitar, even some Pantera and it kind of reminds me a little of Bleach; that fast, dirty, distory, don't know if they really give a fuck attitude. I enjoyed the set but I can't say much for the crowd. Quite quiet, not much applause; I don't know if they simply don't like them or don't care. I would guess the latter. It's almost tense, as if an argument is about to break out between the disaffected and performers.
photo: Cobra Wu

Pygmy Lush - Another surprise as Pygmy Lush begins; I was expecting one thing and it just got really heavy, really quick. Good rhythmic distortion, and again with the loud drums (though not as loud as The City and I). It's good. They open with a long, constant beating; the vocals arrive as expected but all hell breaks loose; I guess the best way to describe it is a strong emphasis. I had to pull myself away from the phone to see what was happening up there. Raw. And it just kept getting louder. Midway through, I feel as if Pygmy Lush has found whatever they were looking for as my pants steadily begin to move with the bass. The disaffected are back on board. The phones go up and the response is far less timid. Folks are excited. The songs are short; much shorter than I expected. The opening piece led me to believe there might be some extended stoner compositions, but they move much quicker. Perhaps that is because of the emphasis on the music as opposed to the lyrics. This kind of reminds me of earlier Cave In but more frantic, if that's possible. It's a lot less Cookie Monster and more Bert & Ernie; it can be all over but focused at once. And eventually things slow down, well at least vocally. It's not as rambunctious. There's still stress but perhaps a medicated stress. My pant legs are still moving though, so they haven’t slowed down that much, it certainly isn’t any less quiet. I just realized how that must read; let me stress that while this is certainly an exciting show, Pygmy Lush doesn't move me that way, just the fabric of my pant legs with the vibration of the fuzz. After some quick promotional work for DIG Records & Vintage, they return even more stressed. A great set all the way around. 

Des Ark - I somehow made it to the back of Comet Ping Pong, or front, I don't know: I am half way in between the side of the stage and the backroom. Halfway backstage, straddling the line of insider and over eager fan. Suffice it to say it is a much better way to experience the show. Des Ark closes the show tonight. Supporting their new album, Everything Dies, it's quite the change of pace. If I could continue the whole Sesame Street metaphor, it's a mix of Snuffy and Two-Headed Monster. Obviously naming a collection of songs 'Everything Dies' is a bit bleak but occasional shifts in tone hint at different personalities. The soft can lead into rolls and crashes on a moment’s notice. The tempo races forward then slows back down: The herky motion of learning manual. I believe a Theremin accents the compositions though I can't quite tell. Honestly, considering my vantage point I really don't have an excuse but I have found myself even further backstage than before. As far as participation goes, the crowd loves it. Des Ark can certainly work the crowd and the back and forth is nice; touching on everything from tater tots, to Sensodyne. There are even some tense moments as someone asks, rather tells them to get on with it. Ultimately it's a nice come down from the previous acts; calm us all down after the explosion that happened earlier. The soft drums, slow picking, and vocals are all like a nice glass of milk before bed. Don't get too comfortable though as, like I mentioned earlier, they can change at a moment's notice. Manic.

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