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Sunday, May 20, 2012


animals as leaders

animals as leaders



Don't know where to start. Left here around 5:30 with Justin driving his truck to Charlotte to the Fillmore on NC Music Factory Blvd. It's been a long time since I've been out in the world. That whole music factory area is a happening place, several live music venues, big parking lot that isn't near big enough, cops sitting around in patrol cars like spiders in window corners waiting for the unaware. The Fillmore is an excellent place for bands. It's a floor about the size of a basketball floor, maybe not quite as long. The stage would be on the middle at the side. Big sound system, computerized lights, the interior ceiling with ducts, pipes, everything painted black. Hardwood floor. The place held several hundred people, all stand-up, no place to sit. It was a comfortable crowd. The place was packed though there was a bit of space between people. I expect it was a bit tight down front where the crush from all the people behind them were pushing unconsciously. I noticed as I stood in place the people in front of me would be about half step further toward the stage than before. I moved about a half step forward enough times that it made me wonder about the people in the crush getting squeezed a little bit more all the time. They love it. Nothing to worry over. It's part of the concert experience.

I loved the music so much tonight it's hard to even start using words. Animals As Leaders knocked my sox off. I believe I need to be finding some recordings by them. They played all instrumental, 2 8-string guitars and a drummer that was all over the drums at all times. He was a powerful drummer. The guitars made sounds and connections you've never heard before. The closest I can get is jazz rock. They are jazzing rock. It's like rock transcending into jazz, its own jazz, not a copy of what we call jazz on the jazz stations. It's like Bill Monroe jazzing old-time tunes and making bluegrass. These guys in Animals As Leaders are making jazz on rock's terms. The two guys, both with 8-string guitars, keep a hard rhythm going with abstract guitar work running with the rhythm. When I say rhythm, I mean with drums all out and a guitar making fast-paced bass rhythms, the other guitar playing really intricate runs on his 8-string. I never tired of listening to them. They have a myspace webpage with samples of their sound. It's new. Always looking for something new in rock. The latest and the newest is its nature.

I'd have been satisfied if Animals As Leaders had been the main band. I was very happy listening to what they were doing.  The crowd liked them too. The first band, O'Brother was a young band, fairly new to opening for a name band. Two Japanese guys played guitars, both with long black hair they slung forward and back continually. They could crank their guitars strings pretty well. The vocalist like to scream a lot. The vocalist for Thrice is a screamer too, like the Used, screaming that is a scream without words. A time in his screaming he was like screaming a song that was no words, just the scream. The audience screamed along with him. It was a scream-a-thon all around me. Some of the songs became a male chorus with the guys in the audience screaming the words along with the screamer on the stage. A guy directly behind me was screaming his lungs out. I saw several guys within 10 feet of me in a half circle screaming every word like they were on stage screaming. That's the kind of audience participation I like, spontaneous.

Thrice had me and the whole audience going, heads bobbing up and down everywhere, hands in the air with the forefinger and little finger up. When I say the people near me were screaming as loud as the screamer on stage and I couldn't hear them, I mean I saw their mouths going and saw the intensity in veins popping out on their faces and necks drawn tight, heard a general chorus that accompanied the sound throbbing from the speakers. The bass player for Thrice was never still for a minute. He had the bass's volume up so high it roared for a long time when he struck a string. When he gets a hard fast rhythm going, something like quadruple time, his bass made the sound all the rest of the band played inside. It was a powerful rhythm band with the drummer keeping a hard rhythm going with the bass that was all over it. The two guitar players both played rhythm and lead alternately. They made the biggest noise they could make with the guitars, often letting them scream from being turned up so high the reverb and distortion were the screams of the guitars. This screaming is something I've been hearing more and more of in rock since the 90s. Rock has served, from the beginning, as a collective, subliminal primal scream. It signals to me something new, rather a new intensity. Rock vocals have always had the scream since Little Richard, though now the wordless scream is replacing words in the vocals. That's the part I find interesting. It mirrors some sort of social change from one generation to the next, as rock changes.

This concert was a birthday present from Justin for my 70th. Went to a Papa Roach concert on the 60th. Transiting a year with a 0 in it can be subconsciously alarming even when it's not consciously so. I go to a rock concert on a decade transiting year to remind myself that I never want to start a sentence, "The kids these days." I looked around at the mostly college age people there, imagining I'm older than the grandparents of nearly all of them. That gave me a kick. I let my white hair shine. It cracked me up being the only one in the place with white hair. I looked at the people there thinking the kids these days are like the kids of my days in late teens, early twenties. It was in that time of my life I was in such inner confusion the inside of my head was opaque. I noticed tonight that in this time of my life,  I am able to let mind take a rest and just focus on the music, listening to the music itself, not a background to mental ongoing aggitation. Several times I'd close my eyes, let the colored lights flash on my eyelids and hear the music raw. Awesome. Truly awesome. Thrice was just the sound I wanted to hear. I wanted music so loud I didn't need ears. I laughed a few times feeling the throbs of the bass and the drums and the other two guitars I wondered if they might set off my defibrillator. There I'd be. Jamming like crazy within, BAM. It didn't happen, but I was never sure it wouldn't.

I loved being among the young rockers. It's not that they make me feel young. Lord have mercy, I was far and away the oldest one in there. That's what it showed me, not that I was trying to fool myself into believing I'm young. I don't want to be young. Been there done that. I looked around at all these people having a great time, the same kind of great time I was having. I'd think, the kids these days, and what I saw was wonderful, beautiful people having a great time together. They looked like cool cats and kittens everywhere I looked. Fact is, they looked like they have a whole lot more on the ball than a group like that of kids my age when I was of that age. In a lot of ways I think the kids today are way advanced beyond the kids of my day. I like their spontenaiety. So many generation gaps between me and the kids these days, the people I saw at the concert, I can't even count the generation gaps. Makes it difficult to connect with someone, because a generation gap amounts to a culture. Lots of cultural changes since Chuck Berry first recorded Maybellene. It's still easy to communicate. I thanked Justin from the heart for this birthday present that may be the best ever. Maybe now I can get to sleep. I attempted sleep, but got up after an hour and started writing this. Maybe I can sleep now.


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