The Fuckin' Contest

Fresh from a room-clearing tour de force at Koo's Art Cafe, the Blows were sort of the odd band out on this Volcom-sponsored bill featuring the Consumers (sludgy, fuck-you inept, stoner metal that probably has the '70s-era Consumers shuddering in their pill-strewn graves); Relish (whom you've certainly heard of in these pages); and MTV's Jackass house band, CKY (Camp Kill Yourself, who take self-immolation to strange and strangely appealing new artistic heights). See, the 400 Blows are not a pretty band, and the 400 Blows are not a funny band, and the 400 Blows, we'd say, aren't even a fun band. To call them "fun" would sap something of their intensity because it implies that they somehow depend on you to approve of them or that they can be reduced to simple entertainment or, perhaps more appropriately, product (of course, they were selling stuff like everyone else—band's gotta eat, right?).

It's anti-entertainment, almost. Their singer, duded up in the trim sailor suit that seems to serve as the band uniform, tried a little steely eyed crowd-baiting, but no one rose to take it—not even to say, "I think you guys need a little Jesus." But that's the kids of today for you: postmodern disaffect and irony suppurate from their very pores. They just didn't care—they all put their fists in the air and made devil horns. Then 400 Blows gnashed their teeth in exasperation and ripped into their set. Singer Skot Alexander has a voice like tearing off a scab, all serrated-buzzsaw snarl and vitriolic spite. Drummer Ferdinand Cudia and guitarist Christian Wabschall play the musical equivalent of a collision between a threshing machine and a bullet train: high-speed; higher-precision; almost industrial, atonal melodic shredding that just spins spikes of feedback out into the crowd. It's flayed-to-the-bloody-bone nihilist art rock from, say, the sulfuric depths of hell, and the kids picked up on that—if not the accusing glare Alexander fired at the crowd on songs like "The Gods Are Laughing at Us." To indicate their approval, they threw devil horns around like this was the Heavy Metal Parking Lot. A long time ago, the Lord stopped caring that pretty much the only time his name was ever taken, it was taken in vain, but can we try to reserve a little smidgen of respect for the Dark One? Is nothing sacred?

They closed with the painfully appropriate "The Ugly Are So Beautiful," Alexander stalking around and holding his mic stand like a staff while Cudia and Wabschall whipped their instruments to bits. The 400 Blows have an aesthetic single-mindedness that is almost predatory in its intensity and focus, based on deconstructing a riff into nothing but rhythm and screech. It's a soundtrack to collapse, decay, nihilism—all those good-old self-destructive tropes that really serve to get some nuts and guts back into music, but this be-devil-horned crowd may have made a crucial mistake as they waved up at the Blows (even if the guy from the Consumers introduced them as "the best band in the world," which could well be true after a few beers): this isn't metal, or even irony metal (which is generally what people who flash devil horns listen to). The 400 Blows play the sound of metal being torn apart—they shred in as literal a sense as possible without bringing razors into the equation. Onstage, they're inhumanly harsh; offstage, they were affable enough, if a bit spent, panting and sweaty. "Good show," says we. "Are you playing around here again?" They took a quick peek at the room as they tried to sell T-shirts, calculated the beef-to-beer-to-boob-to-babe-to-brain ratio, and snorted, "No." Ouch. That hurt. But then again, that's what they do. (Chris Ziegler)

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 

Concert Calendar

  • April
  • Thu
    24
  • Fri
    25
  • Sat
    26
  • Sun
    27
  • Mon
    28
  • Tue
    29
  • Wed
    30
Anaheim Event Tickets
Loading...