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I hit up Modified Arts a couple of weeks ago to check out a local band that fits the bill perfectly: We Fly Our Kites At Night. The five-piece -- vocalist Marcus LaBonte, guitarists Justin Michael and Greg Colson, bassist Laszlo Berkes, and drummer Tyler Porter -- was opening for Ed Gein, and Curl Up and Die, which brought in a mostly teenage audience. I got my fix from the kite fliers, who opened up the show with an intense four-song set.
Crouching at the side of Modified's short stage so I'd be out of the line of the PAs, I listened as Greg urged the 30 or so kids in the audience to huddle closer to the band. They mostly acquiesced, and the band burst into a barrage of speed-core riffage, with Tyler's double bass drum inching away from him slightly. Marcus was screaming unintelligibly, eyes rolled back into his head. Even as the tempo slowed, the volume remained, which explained the headphones Justin wore over his Mohawk.
Also scheduled to perform on Friday, October 7, at the Big Fish Pub. Admission is $7; doors open at 8 p.m.
Laszlo, the baby in the group at 18, hit his bass strings as he flailed around on the crowded stage. Marcus was on and off the stage in a demented shuffle while he wailed, seemingly rapturous. There was a discomfiting melody beneath the volley of noise; when the band slowed in one of its many tempo changes, the music seemed almost dirgelike.
For the last song, "The Swelling Never Goes Down" -- announced as their dance track -- some of the kids present clapped their hands along to the rattletrap beat, while Marcus, now shirtless, kicked the stage rhythmically, his hairy arse crack making frequent appearances. During the chaotic breakdown toward the end, Marcus didn't even use his microphone, screaming at the top of his lungs.
A few days later, we met on the patio of a Tempe bar (where Laszlo's underage-ness would go unnoticed), and the members of We Fly Our Kites At Night proved themselves even more out there than I'd gathered from the live show.
"We're not gonna win any fans talking about that," Justin says when I ask about the lyrical content.
"We have songs about perverts hanging out in trees jerking off while you dry off from your shower," Marcus, the lyricist, says. "My lyrics are about how based on sex the scene has become. Everybody wants to fuck something. Our scene -- people that go to shows -- everybody's focusing on sex. How about five ugly fucking dudes tell you their stories and fantasies about sex? And it leads to really perverse things that don't necessarily offend somebody, but you don't want that.
"We're not writing love songs, we're writing 'be scared about sex' songs. I'm not pro-abstinence, don't believe in waiting 'til you're married, but sex fucks people up. Fourteen-year-old mothers?"
Greg adds, "I'm sick and tired of love songs and 'I miss you' songs and songs about war in Iraq -- I'm so sick of hearing political songs."
Their unorthodox subject matter isn't the only thing different about the Kites kids. "We play shows and I kiss people," Marcus says with what I hope isn't a twinkle in his eye. "Some people like it, some people don't. It just depends on who."
Greg elaborates. "We play different genres of shows; we'll play a show where it's all those kids wearing Army hats and gym shorts -- they're angry, I don't know what about -- and Marcus will go up and try to kiss one of them and they'll get really fucking mad."
"I grabbed a couple of balls, though; they kind of giggled," Marcus says.
I've hung out with Marcus a few times before at bars, and I'm positive that he's not kidding.
We Fly Our Kites At Night committed four of its songs to a demo CD a few months back, which reflects the band's uniqueness -- and has also gotten the Kites hooked up with a new indie label from Mexico City, Escucha! Records, that plans to put out the band's CD soon.
The disc comes packaged in a wax-sealed manila envelope. Inside is a half-page track listing with a transparent overlay featuring the specs for kite building. The CD is sewed into a fabric sleeve -- which took me about 10 minutes to figure out.
"We sewed a hundred of those goddamned things," Greg says. "It's funny watching people open the packaging at shows; they don't get it. It's the little things that count."
It is indeed the little things that make We Fly Our Kites At Night a special band, like the fact they don't like to play on stages. "We're not into playing on high, big stages unless we absolutely have to," Greg says. "It takes away the intimacy of playing to an audience when you're five feet above them."
That intimacy extends to inviting fans at shows to sleepovers, which is a little more than I bargain for when I need my fix of outlandish, chaotic music. You, on the other hand, may want to take them up on it one of these nights.