Monday, January 11, 2010

Live: Fiasco + Unstoppable Death Machines

When: 12/18
Where: Death By Audio

Upon entering Death By Audio for the Fiasco show, we were greeted by a delightful sludge-racket called The Unstoppable Death Machines, with a set-up basically equivalent to that of Lightning Bolt (drummer and bassist, effect-laden vocals through mics strapped right on/in the mouth). However, the music isn't so much Lightning Bolt-esque beyond that. Sure, it's heavy and blasted with distortion, but Unstoppable Death Machines rely far less on complexity and speed than their older Rhode Island counterparts. Instead, they base their music off of simple, crushing riffs. That's not to say there isn't a high level of musicianship, but just that these songs would be learnable to most bassists - Lightning Bolt's music, not so much. While not the greatest or most original band on earth, UDM were pretty delicious. They want to rip your face off. [MySpace]

The young Fiasco took the stage next. And "young" is the operative adjective when it comes to this band. Their mistakes are all characteristic of young players, but so is their particular brand of pure enthusiasm and concentration. Musically, the band plays an involved post-hardcore, with little focus on vocals and a whole lot on complex time signatures, technically difficult riffs and DISTORTION.

At times, their music seemed unnecessarily complicated. I've seen young bands do some crazy stuff just because they can. And I like technically sophisticated music, but only if all the time signature changes and high-speed riffing strengthen the songs instead of gumming them up. Fiasco were hit and miss in this regard.

They also made errors in stage presence. First of all, they allowed way too much downtime between songs - I don't know if this was a product of technical difficulties or just poor planning, but they need to work on closing those gaps - if you can't shorten them, fill them up with something, please! Otherwise, all that momentum that builds during the songs - and they are great songs! - gets lost. Second, the band apologized for being underrehearsed and messing up. They were clearly underrehearsed, but apologizing for it just drew attention to it. If you mess up, you just have to own that as part of the show, say "this is how we play, so fuck off." That's much more fun for the audience than being told they spent their time and money to see something subpar.

Jonathan Edelstein and Lucian Buscemi switch on guitar and bass and alternate vocals, and while I enjoy the variety that adds, it did highlight the discrepancy in skill between the two players. When Edelstein played guitar, guitar led the songs. When he played bass, bass led the songs. His vocals were strong and melodic, while Buscemi could only sing whatever note he was playing. Edelstein also had a more engaging stage presence, while Buscemi looked like he might rather hide behind an amp. Musicians in a band certainly don't have to be equal, and sometimes what a particular musician has brought to a band can't be seen on stage. However, I was a bit surprised at the difference and frustrated by Buscemi's many missed opportunities.

Don't get me wrong, the band is great. Their effort and focus on stage is clear and their music is explosive. They just have some growing up to do - and just think how good they'll be when they get there! [MySpace]

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