Concert Review

Outer Bounds of Sound 12/13 At Revolver Records

"The music in there is terrible," says a customer to Revolver Records co-owner Steve Zimmerman, referring to the warbling tones of saxophonist Lol Coxhill  spinning on the turntable as doom-metal one man band Via Vengeance sets up.  The bands gathered to perform at the record store's Sunday night experimental showcase shared little in common as far as sonics went, but most certainly would fit the general populace's idea of "terrible."  All the acts, duo Permanent Squint, one man outfits Via Vengeance and tsone, and Portland duo Palo Verde plied extreme wares; there were no concessions to pop music made, and that's precisely the point.  These acts were there to deliver an extreme experience, and all succeeded at doing so in their disparate, unique ways. 

Openers Permanent Squint started things off with a brand of instrumental rock that owed more than a little to fret-tapping, Van Halen worshiping guitarist Marnie Stern.  Decked out in a Hendrix shirt, guitarist Jess finger-tapped her distorted Ibanez while drummer Mike bashed out a series of intricate beats, never letting up on his battered double bass-pedal.  Having checked out the band's website before heading downtown, I honestly wasn't expecting much, given that their headline reads "I express my anguish through the majesty of song" (yikes!) and that their upcoming shows lists their CD release show as being held at Cheba Hut (huh?), but I was ultimately won over by their songs, which often veered into the triumphant territory of early Pelican or The Fucking Champs. 

Anyone showing up expecting the free-jazz vibe of previous weeks were most likely put off by Via Vengeance, who set up next, but I'm betting that drummer/guitarist/vocalist Shane Ocell's doomy ballast sounded just fine to the ten year old kid I saw eagerly showing off his freshly purchased copy of Master of Reality out front. Aptly demonstrating the grinding simplicity of quality metal, Ocell manned the drum kit, riffed the guitar and bellowed menacingly into the mic.  Via Vengeance rocked, but the squealing feedback and overloaded minimalism owed as much to modern drone-gods madmen Sunn O))) as any classic doom bands Ocell's sound referenced.  Songs like "Dead in the Snow" recalled prime Neurosis, where Ocell's vocals took on a raw, raspy sound, and despite lyrics that read like trite hardcore platitudes,  he achieved a monstrous weight. 

Following some ambient laptop wrangling by tsone, touring band Palo Verde took the floor.  You know you're in for a good show when the drummer blows her nose in her tee shirt and slams a Red Bull before the first song.  The duo of guitarist Terrica Kelinknect and drummer Lauren Newman launched into their tunes, each set improvised on the spot.  "We try to get some nice textures," Newman laughed from underneath her mop of black matted hair.  The group's violent, chugging riffs moved from math rock to deep grooves, often alternating into call and response snare hits.  Kelinknect's guitar work acts as a sonic floor for Newman's out of control, drums-as-lead-instrument attack, beating on her kit with the blunt, bottom end of her drumsticks.  The ladies only performed 3 songs, but each one felt like a work out, and the bloody and bruised crowd cheered as they finished, satisfied and maybe even a little relieved. As people shuffled up their make shift merch-table at the register, it became obvious that the kind of folks attending Revolver's Sunday night series are willing to endure a little musical punishment, and while upcoming concerts might not be as brutal as this one, downtown patrons can count on more interesting, or "terrible" to those not in the know, offerings from the showcase in upcoming weeks.      

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Outer Bounds of Sound w/Permanent Squint, Via Vengeance, tsone and Palo Verde.

Better Than: In store performances at Revolver's former location.  The newer spot is actually big enough to house gigs, as opposed to the old one, where gigs were staged outside.  It's nice to be able to browse the new arrivals during sets!

Personal Bias: I'll review anything that puts me in close proximity to the Roosevelt Tavern, located a block away from Revolver.  I don't know who "Sue Moore" is, or what she had to do with styling the hot dog at the Roos, but the dog that Matt Pool serves up there is more than dinner, it's a work of art, perfect for following up a couple hours of pummeled drums and white-noise guitars. 

Random Fact: I got some Christmas shopping done at Revolver.  And a few LPs for myself, including a white label promo copy of power-poppers Shoes '79 record Present Tense.

Further Listening: Utilizing room mics, Revolver records each Outer Bounds of Sound session, and they are available for only two bucks at the front counter.  Collect them all, before they start showing up on eBay for outrageous sums.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.