Thu, May 15
PEOPLE IN PLANES at the Rivoli Rating: NN
Don’t let Welsh anomaly People in Planes fool you. Despite their indie-??style outfits and UK mailing address, these dudes are hawking stateside post-??grunge à la Hoobastank and Finger Eleven hard. In music marketing, the term MOR (“middle of the road”) denotes something that has the potential to be commercially viable but lacks innovation, edge, artistic merit and generally appeals to the lowest common denominator. (Think Train and Nickelback.) People in Planes is MOR through and through.
From singer Gareth Jones’s angst-??fuelled lyrics, which are just vague enough to partly obscure their total vacuousness (“I’m a machine but I’m a funny colour”) to their Foo Fighters formula of groovy-??quiet verses and loud, plodding four-??chord choruses, PIP are actually a strange find. They’re a band from the UK that derives its sound from the late-??90s moment just before indie and emo disrupted the stranglehold of shitty American alt-rock.
DAM and INVINCIBLE at El Mocambo Rating: NNNN
It’s not every day you heaok r the Palestinian perspective injected into the hip-?hop headspace. But I’ll be damned if DAM didn’t bring the ruckus as hard as any North American ghetto life reporter. But the opening act, freestyle phenomenon Invincible from Detroit, almost stole the show altogether, with lines like “I’m striving to be the best, period / not just the best with breasts and a period!” Her voice forcefully pushed her politics, and her wordplay was tight.
DAM then stormed the stage, rapping in Arabic throughout their electric performance. Though they mixed the occasional mainstream track into their rugged, bass-?heavy productions, they mostly stuck to their roots, speaking eloquently about their struggles and passions. They taught the non-?Arabic audience members a homeland cultural greeting and weaved their verbal resistance expressions into a few mainstream hip-?hop beats, from Touch It by Busta Rhymes to Jay-?Z’s Big Pimpin’, to which they welded unapologetically aggressive words. I didn’t understand many of the lyrics, but I certainly felt the vibe and respected the atmosphere of the gathering.
Sun, May 18
KTL at the Music Gallery Rating: NNNN
Whether it’s with the devastatingly heavy Sunn0))) and Khanate or with his most recent project, KTL, drone and doom visionary Stephen O’Malley has all but mastered the art of presenting his live performances as surreal experiences.
Knowing that the sight of O’Malley and collaborator Peter Rehberg strumming and twiddling away for an hour could be dull, the duo flooded the small, acoustically superb Music Gallery with smoke and white light, a tactic that immersed the audience into the act.
Working with harsh electronic noise flourishes, sparse and brooding percussion and droning guitar that was almost too loud at times, KTL improvised around a loose musical framework as they built up a huge climax that was as frantic as it was hypnotic. Now, that’s how you put on a show.