AIDS WOLF with ATHLETIC AUTOMATON and SAILBOATS ARE WHITE at the Boat, January 6. Tickets: $8. Attendance: 200. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
With so many wolf bands on the prowl these days, you need to be a discerning consumer. If you like Wolf Parade's crooked pop, chances are you'd be put off by the visceral chaotic clamour AIDS Wolf dished out Friday night.
However, fans of non-linear noise-makers Wolf Eyes would likely lap this up. As for Montreal's We Are Wolves, Edmonton's the Wolfnote or Patrick Wolf... well, you get the idea.
The frozen-in-time feel of the Boat lounge was the perfect setting for a noise-rock show requiring the intimacy only a stageless venue can provide. As soon as openers Sailboats Are White began blasting their brand of electro-fused punk rock, a semicircle around the band moved in close enough to be clobbered by singer Kevin Douglas windmilling the mic like he was Roger Daltrey. Fortunately, the only victim was an innocent disco ball overhead.
Coming off the bench before AIDS Wolf was Rhode Island rock combo Athletic Automaton . Stripping out of their Adidas warm-up suits, the basketball-jersey-clad duo proceeded to pound out bombastic riffs, repetitiously assaulting a lap steel and wreaking havoc on a guitar so out-of-tune it would make Thurston Moore grimace.
During AA's last number, AIDS Wolf singer Chloe Lum grabbed the mic and began wailing, signalling her band to join her. Moments later, the Montreal art-noise unit started hammering their instruments in synch, yet sounding like each member was playing a different song in a different band on a different planet. It somehow came together in a carelessly creative way, as Friday's zealous crowd would no doubt attest. Perhaps this is what scientists refer to as chaos theory.
It doesn't hurt that Lum, with her Black Flag tattoo, oversized leopard-print glasses and screeching throat exercises, has enough stage (or in this case, floor) charisma to captivate you even when the music becomes unforgivably shambolic. Over rapid-fire guitar notes and washing cymbals, Lum howled into the microphone as the encroaching crowd inched toward her, feeding off her spastic energy and vocal abandon. By the set's finish, any illusion of a barrier between performer and spectator had been destroyed, and fans swarmed the group like a pack of hungry... well, you get the idea.