Though it seems like too long ago to even recall, Summer 2015 was a thing. As some people are inclined to do, members of this semester’s Punk workgroup attended several live music shows during this period and experienced some things. More often than not these were good things. Here are the best of those things. And guess what! The shows were not strictly “punk”. There you have it. Also: Punk workgroup meets Mondays at 5pm in the station. Come!
Boredoms, courtesty of Ivan Krasnov
Ivan Krasnov, Punk workgroup director, fourth year
Boredoms playing with 88 (!) cymbal players
as part of Doug Aitken’s Station to Station show at the Barbican Centre in London, England
27 June 2015
Yes, I will admit to dozing off during this Boredoms set. I was sweating and wriggling around in my seat in all kinds of bizarre ways, completely transfixed by the monster that was being birthed right in front of me, only to feel my eyes start to glaze over and blood rush away from my brain. This was not due to any sort of lack of sleep, however. No way. The Japanese noise-rock titans Boredoms, with the aid of eighty-eight (yes, 88) cymbal players surrounding them in a huge concentric circle, were pummeling each and every one of my senses. It became so exhausting that my body just gave in, I guess. Such was the visceral nature of this performance. Yamantaka Eye played the cult leader, conducting an orchestra of devoted cymbal players to create crescendos that felt like an ocean’s waves crashing right into you and sweeping you away. The 2 hour plus performance saw multiple guitars, drummers and noises enter in a most tasteful and surprisingly consonant fashion. The chords and short progressions they created together remain in my mind as bright, full-bodied pastel colors shining through the chaos. These were truly vital in grounding me, the listener and spectator, during an otherwise rhythmically heavy and thundering performance. Truly unlike anything I have ever experienced before.
Alex Chalmers, Punk workgroup devotee, fourth year
Numb Bats/Beat Awfuls
at Bric-a-Brac Records in Chicago
Some time in July I think?
The opener was some Chicago band whose name I can’t recall – they weren’t all that good. Sort of off time and the levels were never quite right, so someone was always drowning out the rest of the band. But Beat Awfuls came on second and really blew me away. They played drone-y Southern garage rock with lots of reverb. Their songs are haunting and painfully beautiful, with heavy heavy lyrics (something along the lines of “I sold my little brother ecstasy, and now he takes it 5 times a week”). Their set paved the way for Numb Bats, a post-punk trio from Phoenix, Arizona. Like Beat Awfuls, their songs are big and reverb-y, but with more punk edge, wittier lyrics and a more driving rhythm. The bass player uses distortion a lot (so punk), their harmonies are on point, and they have an incredible energy on stage. Moments that stuck with me are basically just snatches of their songs: “You’re so pretty!”, “And he may walk with a grin, but he’ll shake you thin/his fits are so ugly, and his tummy so hungry/i keep waking up at night, and i feel like a child!”
Confession time: I bought their album Gentle Horror at the show, and have been listening to it on repeat in my car since. Definitely a band to listen to, watch, become obsessed with.
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Summer programming is over! The small-but-mighty summer staff are here to share what we’ll be listening to while we’re waitin for fall @ WOBC.
Max, summer engineer: Jamie XX
Off of Jamie XX’s new album In Colour, this song combines an addictive beat, verses by Young Thug, hooks by Popcaan, and holds it all together with extensive sampling from The Persuasions’ 1971 “Good Times” to create one of the best songs of the summer.
Nandita, summer station manager: Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment
An ode to Chance the Rapper’s grandma, also feat. a gospel choir and the lovely Jamila Woods. The whole album is good vibes and I’m addicted.
With an all-star (and fully original) lineup that counts among its ranks multi-instrumentalist and producer Colin Marston (Gorguts, Dysrhythmia, Behold The Arctopus, etc), ever-busy bassist Nick McMaster (Geryon, Gath Smane, ex-Castevet), endurant skinsman Lev Weinstein (Geryon, Bloody Panda), and outre solo guitarist Mick Barr (Octis, Ocrilim, Crom-Tech), New York’s Krallice are nearly a supergroup at this point. The USBM pioneers have always possessed a single-minded drive for the experimental, drawing from yet ultimately eschewing both the riff-heavy paradigms established by the Scandinavian black metal progenitors and the occult dissonance of newer European BM. This approach is manifest in Krallice’s preoccupations with texture, atmosphere, and spontaneity, and it’s one that’s rendered the band controversial in the eyes of black metal traditionalists. But whatever your opinions may be about Krallice’s music, you can’t deny that it’s something different, and it’s only become more so over the last few years. The band’s last album, 2012’s Years Past Matter, saw the band traveling further outside the realm of BM conventions, incorporating clean guitars and a notable increase in aggression. WOBC Metal recently spoke to guitarist Mick Barr, who touched on some of the background of the group as well as on Krallice’s current pursuits and future plans.
It’s been almost 7 years since the first Krallice record came out. What do you think has changed most about your sound since then?
Our lives have evolved, and our brains and music must follow suit. However, our working methods haven’t changed much. We still write music using roughly the same methods; one of the 3 songwriters will bring forth a skeleton, and all 4 of us will write to it. We still practice and record at Colin’s studio Menegroth. We still have roughly the same gear. Writing-wise, we have been allowing more of our personal styles to rear their heads in our music: more death metal, more technicality, less repetitive black metal structuring. And I suppose the biggest change since the first album is Nick McMaster no longer just does “additional vocals”…
You all juggle a number of different side projects. Is Krallice your collective first priority?
It seems like first priority usually goes to the band/project that books the individual member’s time the furthest in advance. This band is very important to all of us, but we aren’t the type of people to limit ourselves to one particular priority. Music is our first priority, and it takes many forms. And i don’t think any of us views anything we do as a “side-project”. However, Krallice is my personal first priority as far as “bands” I’m in. But I’m in way less bands than the other 3 members in Krallice, so I sometimes lament the lack of prioritization while we discuss scheduling.
One thing I find striking about your records is the sonic clarity that you achieve. How does this translate to a live setting? Does anything get lost?
It seems to translate alright I guess. I strive to not worry much about live sound, as it seems to be a losing battle. I’m sure many things get lost, but many other things get found in the live setting. Things that might have been a bit clouded in the recording might ring louder. Also, how riffs are played evolve over time, which only gets a chance to be shown while being performed.
I grew up a strange child and had never really heard a song by Radiohead until high school. One day, as my father was driving me home from school, he asked me “Do you have the song ‘Creep’ by Radiohead?” Being a hip young child who supposedly listened to such wonder, I nodded, even though I’d never even heard or heard of the song, nor owned it. “Great,” he said “‘cause I’d love a copy!” So as soon as we arrived back at the house, I turned on the computer and downloaded the track, like a good little daughter. What I heard was absolutely wonderful. I’d gone through a tough time with a guy I was interested in at the time, and the lyrics really echoed what I was feeling. These lyrics also echoed the feelings I’d always felt as a child going through my prime awkward stage. Eight years later, and I’m dealing with the same situation; a different guy but the same pain; “I want you to notice when I’m not around. You’re so f**king special, I wish I was special.” I recently got into the habit of creating playlists for how I’m feeling; this song is listed among the favorites that I’ve chosen to describe the feelings that I have for this guy. This song is universal, and is loved by so many. I feel that it describes something we’ve all been through; pain, invisibility, heartbreak, etc. The song is 22 years old, and still speaks wisdom to us today.
When it comes to ‘90s music, it’s fair to say I’m out of the loop. In fact, when tasked with finding a song from my birth year, I had to do a quick google search. Imagine my surprise and utter glee when I discovered that this glorious mound of cheese is just a handful of months older than I am. If you love fantasy, bazaar sound effects, and the subtle feeling that you’re being creeped upon, you will love this track. Also contains lyrical gems such as “Open your eyes, I see / Your eyes are open” and the chorus, from whence the song draws its name: “Always, I want to be with you / And make believe with you / And live in harmony, harmony oh love”. This ecstatic orgasm of embarrassing fantasies, vomited into the vessel of a weirdly produced song, is sure to put a smile on your face (or at least make you feel slightly queasy). Bonus: Featured in Adult Swim’s legendary game you may have played incessantly in high school: Robot Unicorn Attack.
“Not a Pretty Girl” by Ani DiFranco
Released July 18, 1995
Ani DiFranco’s album Not a Pretty Girl came out on July 18 1995, only 10 days before I was born. I really dig this album, and it was actually an album I listened to a lot during high school. This album talks a lot about being comfortable with yourself and your own complexity, and it also talks about being queer and angry and independent. These are all things I really clicked with in high school (and some I really click with now), so I’m glad that me and this album ‘came out’ around the same time. One song that I like in particular is the title track “Not a Pretty Girl.” It’s a soft, acoustic song with lyrics that hammer down at the patriarchy and traditional gender roles. DiFranco lays out the patriarchal idea that men need to save women and that women are perceived as irrational because of their anger in lyrics that tell a story and tell men off.
Oh, Green Day—classic Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong-eyeliner-wearing-coke-inhaling-bleached-hair-quintessential Green Day—“Long View” is iconic for so many reasons. Firstly, it was on Dookie, Green Day’s third album, which enabled their rise to stardom. Green Day (at least in their early days) is known for showing that they have good taste in music, and many of said traits are embodied in “Long View.” For example, a steady, walking-ish and yet declarative baseline drives the melody, kind of like those found in many songs by the Clash or the Jam; but while those mod/early punk groups might have written about politics and social inequalities, the lyrics in “Long View” aren’t so deep. They’re still angry, sure, but the lyrics are simple, and full of adolescent restlessness and general angst. These attitudes are also replicated in the few power cords repeated throughout, something found in basically every Ramones song ever. Also, the music video—featuring the violent destruction of a couch—always makes for an exciting watch (to say the least, I was terrified and intrigued when I saw this at age 11). In all seriousness though: think what you want about Green Day as a whole, but Mike Dirnt’s bass line here made me want to learn the instrument.
It’s always great to see a rockin’ all-lady band, even if 4 Non Blondes wasn’t destined for fame and greatness. They were only together 5 short years (1989-94), but they gave the world “What’s Up” in the year of my birth, and for that I am eternally grateful. Not a fast jam, maybe not even a “catchy” jam, but somehow “What’s Up” will stick in your spine like the residues of LSD, and send your world kicking every now and then. You won’t even know why, but suddenly you’ll find yourself singing: “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah, Yeah, yeah, yeah… I said hey! What’s goin’ on?!”
The song holds a certain nostalgia for me, because of it’s random emergence in the halls of Dascomb throughout the 2012-3 school year. As a wee freshman, I would be sitting on my bed, doing homework, wondering why everything was dumb (in classic freshman-style), and out of nowhere I would faintly hear some boys in my hall singing, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah…” It must have happened four or five times throughout the school year, but at 1-2 month long intervals apart. Strange how “What’s Up” comes to haunt or comfort us in the best of times and the worst of times.
Danny Rosenberg Daneri, a.k.a. DJ Slam Punk, recently saw La Dispute play a show in Philadelphia. This is his account of that fateful day:
On March 28th, the post-hardcore band La Dispute played a “seated show” to a sold out crowd in the chapel of the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia. Not dissimilar to an “MTV Unplugged” event, the group performed semi-acoustic arrangements of their songs while a crowd of mostly teenagers practically fainted at the sight of their favorite band being so sweet and vulnerable. While I certainly consider myself a fan of La Dispute, this was the kind of show where you realize how much more into the band other people are.
The setlist was mostly comprised of songs from Rooms of the House (their latest, pretty boring)and Wildlife (they opened with a weak, tinny version of the album’s first track, “A Departure”). As someone who gets into bands like La Dispute primarily for their punk rock elements, the show was mostly a disappointment. For the more devoted fans who come to the band by way of Say Anything and Taking Back Sunday, however, this event was a dream come true. In between songs, vocalist Jordan Dreyer would make the teenagers giggly, and people like me uncomfortable, with his nervous and mostly uninteresting banter. In any case, once I was able to switch gears and begin to think of it more as an indie/emo show, the band at least commanded my attention.
They broke up the set with a Q and A with the audience that mostly consisted of predictable questions like, “What’s your favorite song of yours?” and “What’s your favorite album of all time?” For favorite album, Jordan Dreyer chose All Hail West Texas by the Mountain Goats, bassist Adam Vass chose a Saves the Day album, drummer Brad Vander Lugt chose an album called Time by an obscure new German composer, and guitarist Chad Sterenberg copped out with an album that he recently discovered in a box full of old funk records. It turns out that none of them are into punk/hardcore. My general frustration was calmed slightly when someone asked how their approach to composition has changed since their first (really shitty) EP, Vancouver, and Jordan Dreyer laughed and said, “When’s the last time anyone listened to Vancouver?”
Just two days before the event, I was at a high-point in terms of my La Dispute fandom when I walked out of their (more traditional/standing/moshing/swarming) show at Union Transfer near Philly’s Center City neighborhood. While the venue was too large for my taste, the band played a solid set beginning with “King Park,” a fan favorite from Wildlife. The rest of the set was dominated by songs from Rooms of the Houseand Wildlife, but they showed signs of self-awareness when they ended with a flawless, gripping performance of perhaps my favorite song, “The Last Lost Continent” from their first studio album, Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair.
Ultimately, I’m glad I got to see the band from such different angles. It helped confirm some opinions that I suspect many La Dispute fans share—Somewhere… is their best album, they’re on the emo end of the post-hardcore scene, and jumping around and shouting at the top of your lungs is a lot more fun than sitting quietly in church.
Classical workgroup presents two dispatches from what some people might call the front but what we think is not at all a bloody battle field but the friendly confines of the WOBC station with all the great music housed within it.
This is what Franklin Sussman has been checkin’ out:
Ravel – Violin Sonata No. 2
This piece is super chill to listen to in the morning right after waking up. There’s not much to say about it but it is a quaint and intimate sonata with melodies that will definitely get stuck in your head.
Dvorak – The Golden Spinning Wheel
I first learned about this piece, and the existence of Dvorak’s tone poems in general, when I was going to see Cleveland Orchestra for the first time and Bill Preucil was supposed to play Dvorak Violin Concerto, which is one of my favorites. I was so disappointed to hear a few hours before the concert that he had a pinched nerve and wouldn’t be playing that night, but I was happily surprised when they replaced it with this piece. The story, as I remember it from the program notes is like some sort of gruesome and twisted rumpelstiltskin situation, but even without all of the details this wonderfully programmatic piece keeps your attention and has a great beginning and end.
Sibelius – En Saga
This is one of his best tone poems and also one of his earliest works. It combines Finnish inspirations as well as influences from Swedish, his mother tongue, and apparently Iceland as well. I enjoy that it does not really have a specific story, as opposed to many of his other mythology inspired works, but instead just gives the general impression of a saga.
Shostakovich – Symphony No. 5
This is one of my all time favorites, although I had not listened to it for a while until recently. It is a timeless classic and a piece that always has more to offer the more you listen to it.
Prokofiev – Quintet in G Minor
This unusual quintet for violin, viola, bass, oboe, and clarinet is a perfect example of Prokofiev’s unique chamber music skill, and it is even adapted from a chamber ballet. If you like this, check out both of his string quartets as well.
Menotti – Violin Concerto
This seemingly obscure violin concerto is similar in structure to that of Barber, which makes sense because Menotti and Barber were partners while working on their violin concerti. Although Menotti eventually left Barber for a younger man, and never reached the level of fame Barber did, this piece shows his unique style and skill. Unfortunately, not many recordings exist, the best being by Jennifer Koh (Oberlin ’97!), though even that one has some flaws due to the piece simply being awkward to play in many sections.
Cataclysm, by workgroup member Yu Victor Zheng
“A flute and piccolo, a guitar, a snare drum, and a bass drum. Not the most conventional quartet you’d expect to see.I called upon the mighty, deep resonance of the bass drum, the sharp, crisp attack of the snare drum, the hollow wooden knock and the snap of the guitar wood and strings, and the wavering, rich tone of the flute enhanced by the shrill, piercing cutting edge of the piccolo.
What happened then was a fascinating puzzle in which I was presented with a battle that emerged between the four voices. Lacking the type of timbral coherency one would hear in something like a string quartet, the four voices would fight another for dominance. It became obvious to me that I could not compose this like I had my previous ensembles; each instrument was timbrally distinct and I had to think of not only how they would enhance each other but where they would disrupt each other. After a few attempts to write so that the quiet instruments would only play when they could be heard, I had a different idea. What if I were to depict their battle in the music? Embrace their conflict rather than work around it?
This is the story that then emerged from the piece. The counterpoint between the bass drum and snare mesh together well and project powerfully while the flute’s entrance, playing tongue pizzicato tones a minute or two in, is the entrance of an outsider, struggling feebly to imitate, but being beat back by, the tide of the mighty bass and snare. But the flute finds an ally in the guitar, which initially attempts to blend in with its own percussive attacks on damped strings, and they switch tactics: the flute switches to the piercing piccolo and instead of imitating the percussion, they go fully tonal and the piece dissolves into a cheery folk-like duet between the guitar and piccolo while the drums play quietly in the background. This is not to last, however, as the two percussion instruments decide to fight back, setting the stage for a furious finale. Unable to combat the power of the drums head-on, the piccolo and guitar attempt a variety of tactics in the form of diverse sounds ranging from piccolo glissandos to scratching the guitar strings with a pick. But eventually they are overpowered and they bow out of the piece, leaving the two percussion instruments alone. The piece ends with several mighty crashes on the bass drum, evoking cataclysmic explosions.”
The Yellow River Cantata (黄河大合唱), set for combined orchestra and choir, was written by Xian Xinghai, depicting the Chinese struggle against the Japanese invasion during World War II. The Yellow River Piano Concerto (黄河协奏曲) is an adaptation by Yin Chengzong of the most important melodies of the Cantata into a piano concerto, but being written after the Communist takeover, also includes quotations from Communist-endorsed melodies such as The East is Red and The Internationale. Both pieces are popular as patriotic Chinese pieces and represent a fusion of Chinese melodies and instruments with Western orchestration and structure.