When Chris Schlarb's spazzy free-rock duo I Heart Lung played on a 50-band bill at Hollywood hippie-punk art space Il Corral last year, he saw the future: everybody who might one day be famous for 15 minutes in frenetic noise-rock bands for two minutes.
The show, consisting of 40 or so of SoCal's finest experimental/noise bands and at least 10 ad hoc joke bands (I Rape Nick Lachey, etc.) playing in short intervals, was organized by director Sean Carnage to document the mercurial scene in a single marathon night.
"We hadn't played in months, and about a minute-and-a-half in, people are just going nuts," Schlarb says of I Heart Lung's two minutes. "I was like, 'What parallel universe did we wander into?'"
The night took on a life of its own—"electric," Schlarb gushes. He knows electric. Schlarb's Long Beach-based label Sounds Are Active is home to such sonic outsiders as Bizzart and Create (!).
"A week after the show, I called Sean up and was like, 'I have distribution; we have to put this out.' I gave him some records, and as soon as he saw the cover art, he was like, 'Okay, let's do it.'"
The result is the DVD 40 Bands/80 Minutes, which is perfect: Why drag your ass to Hollywood for a seven-hour show of 50-something bands, when you can see the result edited down into the 40 best YouTube-perfect installments? Genius. And if it isn't, well, you haven't wasted a whole night.
The format is really the star of the film, the sheer momentum of seven-plus hours of (mostly) noise coagulated. Captain Ahab kick, punch and scream things off with "Punch Yourself in the Crotch As Hard As You Can," but before things get too spazzy, glam rappers Faux for Real do their Tony Orlando-and-Dawn thing, while Fireworks turns in an oddly moving improvised acoustic-folk narrative. The two-minute rule is firm: Il Corral's stopwatch minder Christie Scott literally pulls the plug on folk femme Naomi when she goes over. Comic relief comes courtesy of "TV's Rob Williams," a sunny host from a faux cooking-show skit that makes a band sandwich (including, of course, Bacon Tears Up Business bacon), and even has two minutes at the gig to shine himself—making a sandwich with his feet—which those crazy Ahab mofos then eat.
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But for all the performance art and cacophony, there are some genuine moments of serendipity. When Bizzart and knob-twiddlers Demonslayer's gear craps out, the Demons start chanting, "We make noise," and Bizzart slays it with a freestyle rap—completely unamplified. It's so perfectly in- and of-the-moment, Christie puts away her stopwatch and starts dancing with everyone else.
"I think [the DVD's] the kind of thing that in 20 years—and I hope I'm not being too presumptuous—people will look back on and go, 'Wow, so-and-so was in that band?' It's documenting a zeitgeist now," Schlarb says. "Like Urgh! A Music War is now, where you can see the Police and Oingo Boingo before they were these huge bands."
Dog Shit Taco, we knew you when.
40 BANDS/80 MINUTES MAKES ITS OC PREMIERE WITH A SCREENING AT THE CLINIC, 2208 S. LYON ST., SANTA ANA; WWW.SOUNDSAREACTIVE.COM. FRI., 8 P.M.