TO LIVE And SHAVE IN L.A. with POLMO POLPO, GASTRIC FEMALE REFLEX and DOLLARAMA at Sneaky Dee's, September 2. Tickets: $12. Attendance: 110. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
I like to think that everyone has a personal soundtrack to their own lives running perpetually in their head. Maybe the milk truck driver has gangsta rap playing, or the elderly lady has uppity Celtic jams going on.
But what if I went crazy cuz 1,000 bad things happened to me and all I could do after was to tie raw chicken to my face with guitar strings and sing Oh Susanna or something?
If that were the case, then I think the music in my head would sound something like last Saturday at Sneaky Dee's, where a bizarre lineup of bands culminated in a performance by party metal guy Andrew WK's other band, To Live and Shave in L.A., thus rather humorously disappointing/alienating the handful of his loyal fans who showed up in hopes of hearing Party Til You Puke. But more on that in a sec.
After a lengthy opening set by Dollarama, in which the band's four self-indulgent members made noise out of found objects like bubble-wrap and buckets and small toys, there was an electro-drone performance by local one-man band Polmo Polpo (aka Sandro Perri), which consisted mainly of drone/bass-heavy noise occasionally met by high-pitched glitchy sounds and squeals. Discomforting and interesting to hear, not so much to watch.
As loose and free-form as Perri was, aggro-electro duo Gastric Female Reflex opted for more of an aural assault orchestrated through lots of knob-twisting and button-pushing. Let's briefly revisit the fact that there were people there hoping for party rock, patiently waiting for WK while Gastric Female Reflex bombarded the crowd with a wall of angry-sounding frequencies that through keen timing came off as violently cartoonish. Kind of like being punched with noise.
So, yeah, there were scrunchy faces and some booing, mostly from dudes. When WK emerged with To Live and Shave, you'd think there would have been this swelling sensation of relief. But then the music started.
Shave, having been around for over a decade, have plenty of material to play, so the disappointment took a while to set in - until it became clear that the band was committed to playing a redundant set sounding like art noise meets the Cure at a crack house.
Shave did little to make things inviting or compelling. Vocalist Tom Smith hit dangerously high levels of melodrama, and the rest of the band aimed for a noise attack without any coherent build-up or musical narrative.
Though oscillator player Ben Wolcott managed to crank out exceptionally weird sounds, the band played as though its mission was to antagonize.
Needless to say, the party metal dudes left early.