Extreme Music from Women (Cleveland, March 18, 2000, Speak in Tongues)
[originally posted 21Mar2000]
Rosemary Malign’s car broke down the day the tour started. She never made it out of St. Louis. No one bothered to tell me. I was looking forward, greatly, to seeing Ms. Malign do her earsplitting thing. Nunslaughter were playing at the club upstairs from EMFW. No one bothered to tell me. There were a few spots where some good death metal would have been just the thing to counteract boredom. Peter Sotos came in from Chicago to catch the show. No one bothered to tell me until I was standing face to face with the guy being introduced. I could have a signed copy of Total Abuse now. (As it stands, at least I got some info for later in the message.) More disturbing, after being introduced, he got a pensive look on his face, than said, “your name sounds familiar. Where would I have heard of you?” Given Sotos’ book subjects, I hesitate to ask.
All that being said, we got five bands and William Bennett Plays the Music of Your Life. Between acts, Bennett and his portable DJ setup spun some very interesting music (and gave me a chance to proselytize, since he played pieces of Radiosonde’s Meter Sickness twice, and I got to tell many different people that they needed to buy the album ASAP), but each DJ set lasted half an hour or so—way too long when you’ve got five bands on the bill.
Karen Thomas, half of Cleveland band Lockweld, opened the show with a brutally distorted Roland keyboard, a sampler that was pushing its limits, and the vocals we always knew Karen was capable of, a mix between the kind of gut-churning noises one makes after eating way too much all-you-can-eat bad seafood at Big Boy and the screams of a dying catamount. Karen’s set was the shortest of the bunch, and probably should have been the longest. It certainly got the best (deservingly!) response from the crowd. The only thing missing was the fire.
Maria Moran, better known as Zipperspy, popped up next. Not surprisingly, the set sounded like, well, Zipperspy. (Refer to my disc review, [dead links redacted 2014]. I have the same things to say here.) It was louder, which was a good thing, but there’s only so much breakbeat one can take before one wonders where the rest of the song is. If you’re spending money to see a live show with an artist who works exclusively in breakbeat, you’d be much better off checking out Lesser and Kid-606 on one of their many jaunts around the nation; they tour at least once a year.
Wendy Van Dusen and the glorious goth-sex band Neither/Neither World took the stage next. About half the male members of the audience had heart attacks thanks to Van Dusen’s attire (in her defense, it should be noted that she was wearing far more than usual, and those men probably just had weak hearts). Sex-kitten music and come-hither posturing from Van Dusen probably didn’t help the rest of the crowd. Much of the furniture in the venue was seen, after N/NW’s set, to have suffered from being chewed. How was the music? Who knows? I can guarantee, though, if N/NW tours and stops in Cleveland, you’ll have to get your tickets fast. They’ll sell out in a heartbeat.
Rosemary Malign had the next slot on the bill, but was stuck with a dead tranny in St. Louis [ed. note 2014: I am still amazed that in a review talking about Peter Sotos, I did not manage to make a tasteless joke here; I will refrain from doing so now], so we got Diane Nelson. And the last couple of minutes of Nelson’s set were phenomenal. Best thing I heard all night. More energy in a live performance than anything since M.A.S.O.N.N.A. played pinball with himself in ’96. Unfortunately, Nelson preceded it with twenty minutes of monotonous sludge that seemed to have no direction or point.
Last, and worth the wait, was Cat Hope, from Australia. Another who helped make her stage presence known with a dress that was cut to the point of obscenity (my god, that woman’s got some seriously muscular thighs), but in Hope’s case, it couldn’t take your mind off the noise. Being slowly dismembered wouldn’t have taken your mind off the noise. Using a bass (seemed detuned to me, but I could be wrong), a number of effects pedals, a small sampler, and a laptop, Hope ended the night on a quiet note– at least, quiet as far as Speak in Tongues shows go– but that didn’t stop the crowd from registering, and gaping at, the unbridled ferocity of one woman and her bass guitar. Subsonic rumbles, feedback, minimal beats (supplied by the laptop) all combined to form a kind of soup that merged beauty and ugliness in a quite original way. I like what Cat Hope does, I like it a bunch, and hopefully we’ll be hearing more from her as time goes on.
Three for five, not too shabby. I’ve had better nights at shows, but I’ve had worse, too.
No one filmed the show. So instead, here’s Cat Hope’s marvellous piece from the compilation.