Wanna hear the ocean? Photo by Heather Russ
Wanna hear the ocean? Photo by Heather Russ

Totally Tubular

Numbers is the band for that inevitable day when the federal government installs black rubber tubes that dangle from the ceiling in every kitchen, dispensing cooked meals every 12 hours. First, you will dutifully grease the inside of the thing with the stuff the FDA delivers to your house by pneumatic tubes and wait eagerly with a plate under the mouth of the meal hose; how the eyes of your children might glow when a tumescence makes the familiar cracks in the rubber yawn (potatoes tonight!), just as their eyes shone when you took them through the underground tunnels to peer down into the Long Beach Crater of 2011. But after the children are hauled off to the productivity chambers, you'll forget to lubricate the rubber gullet—why, you'll even forget to hold the government-issue plate with stainless grease shields under the tube, happy just to suck the end of it until mealtime comes, and when enough of the dry ungreased rubber has flaked off into your mouth you'll forgo nutriment altogether, so that a rich compost of cream of wheat, chicken l'orange and spinach souffl grows into a mound on the kitchen floor, eventually suffocating the delivery mechanism, but by then you will be too preoccupied with your mange and the loss of your teeth to notice.

Back in the early part of the century, when you could still go outside, Numbers sprang up from the SF Mission District, two boys and one girl looking for a good time in the houses and warehouses of the day: to complete a chiasmus, they are Indra Dunis, drummer and singer, who sounds like she is afraid of what might come out of her mouth when she opens it; Eric Landmark, keyboardist and singer; and Dave Broekema, guitar and backup singer, who did not like the derisive things I said about Steve "Kid Millionaire" Aoki on an e-mail list because he is not a flaming jerk like I am. Numbers is the spare, economical type of band that finds a musical pattern and repeats it over and over again with little variation. The results of this are very good when the pattern is exciting—for instance, the song "Beast Life" on their new album We're Animals—and otherwise when the pattern is funny and funky and kind of embarrassing—for instance, the song "The Fuck You Garage" on their new album We're Animals. Their early recordings were grating and jarring and anti-consumerist ("We Like Having These Things"), which is why music journalists are required by law to compare them to Gang of Four. Their new shit is often pretty and in-tune and continues to feature a synth, which is why existing statutes compel writers to compare them to Kraftwerk. They sound nothing like either of those bands, but most music writers don't make enough to pay the fines that would result from pointing this out. I, however, come from money.

If G. Gordon Liddy pointed a loaded revolver to my head, cocked the hammer and demanded I name an antecedent to Numbers' attitude, I would choose the Talking Heads, because the band sings about animals and its lyrics reflect a blithe terror at the storm of uncategorizable events that characterizes modernity and all three members are probably autistic: "Now the crows are sick, there's no denial/They're all getting West Nile." While I appreciate Numbers singing about how birds are falling out of the sky because of horrible diseases that will eventually kill us all, at the moment I wish they would join me in striving to protect the 84th Amendment from our radical judiciary that wants to do away with our inalienable right to bear hash browns. Anyway, the band is very good and you should pay money to the ticket agency that brokers transactions between, on the one hand, promoters, venue owners and artists, and on the other hand, the ordinary listening public such as yourselves in exchange for a ticket that will guarantee you a place in the venue from which you will be able to hear if not see Numbers perform.



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