and Warlocks at Satyricon
and a delicate wall of sound
Only two bands were on the evening's bill, but
the mountain of equipment piled up on the modest stage at Portland's
Satyricon seemed to indicate otherwise.
From the looks of it, there had to be at least
two or three opening acts in addition to the Oct. 13 headliners.
But as soon as L.A.'s Warlocks began to assume their positions
onstage it became clear that most of this gear was, in fact,
With four guitarists (one handled vocals), bass,
keyboard and two drummers, Warlocks' formidable presence was
enough to send me rushing back to the car to retrieve forgotten
earplugs. From the sheer number of musicians, I imagined an
overwhelming wall of sound like nothing I'd ever heard.
Warlocks did indeed conjure up a wall of sound,
but it was somewhat more delicate and refined than expected.
Instead of using their amplified ammunition to bludgeon listeners
into submission, they put forth a very appealing sound that
was, while certainly noisy, also richly layered and textured.
Evoking The Velvet Underground, as well as Lou
Reed and company's more modern counterparts, The Jesus &
Mary Chain, Warlocks used their very basic two- and three-chord
songs as frameworks to experiment with collages of sound. Bluesy
solos mingled with droning waves of feedback and the pounding
rhythm of dual drummers to create an almost hypnotic effect,
only slightly spoiled by the rather monotonous tones of the
Ending their set with all five guitars propped
up against their respective amps which finally resulted
in the unearthly din I had anticipated Warlocks proved
to be a very promising new band, and a perfect accompaniment
to the headliners of the evening.
Contract players: B.R.M.C.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is a band with a major
label contract a rarity at Satyricon and it was
quite a shock to see actual roadies scurrying about this tiny,
filthy club, setting up the band's equipment just so.
The club, filled almost to capacity, proved that
people, or young people anyway, had returned to their pre-Sept.
11 routines of getting out of the house and enjoying themselves.
And when the lights went out and B.R.M.C. began their set, the
crowd responded quite enthusiastically, indicating that many
of these people were actually here to see this particular band
and hadn't simply wandered in on a Saturday night.
Opening with "Red Eyes and Tears," the
second track from their self-titled Virgin Records debut, B.R.M.C.
immediately demonstrated a stage presence coupled with a confidence
that belied their obvious youth. It's quite evident that these
fellows know they've got what it takes to be rock stars
not in a shallow or self-aggrandizing way, but with a pronounced
maturity and a cool professionalism.
After busting out several more tracks from their
album which is a wonderfully refreshing nod to the early-'90s
Britpop and shoegazing music scenes that professionalism
was tested, when equipment problems caused guitarist/vocalist
Peter Hayes to call a halt to the proceedings in the middle
of a song. While he and the technicians tried to work out the
problem, bassist/vocalist Robert Turner and drummer Nick Jago
kept the audience happy with an impromptu jam and ended up receiving
a rousing ovation. Once the technical difficulties were overcome,
Hayes joined in to finish the improvisation.
B.R.M.C. soldiered on through a few more minor
equipment problems and performed several more tunes from their
debut, including the atmospheric "Awake" and the driving
rock of "Whatever Happened to My Rock 'N' Roll (Punk Song),"
during which a young woman from the audience, wearing a cowboy
hat and leather pants, jumped onstage and contributed lively
"It's been a while since that happened,"
mused a grinning Turner.
A few more songs were played, the last of which
featured Hayes and Turner swapping instruments, and then the
show was over.
Given the sonic wasteland that is popular music
these days, it's nice to see that an honest-to-God rock band
can still get signed by a major label and draw an enthusiastic
crowd to their gig.
Yes, there's still hope