Lightning Bolt at Studio Deep End
Over 200 people crowded in to Studio Deep End Friday night for a show that almost didn’t happen. Booking shows is always a pain in the ass, but for Kelsey K, this one was especially so. Originally set to go down at the Bayview Legion Hall, the Legionnaires decided their Friday night fish fry was the surer bet. Scrambling for a new venue, Kelsey was coming up empty handed. Finally she called on a favor from some friends at MIAD who’d recently begun an art collective and had some warehouse space housing a gallery. The space, also known as “The Spot,” ended up being perfect–just big enough to contain the bands and everyone who came to see them, small enough that it was a cramped and sweaty mess–which is really what you’re looking for from a Lightning Bolt show anyway.
Local pirate punks John the Savage were a strange choice to open the show, but they delivered a solid set despite continual problems with the PA. Missouri’s Haii Usagi blasted through an energetic mix of pre-programmed beats and live synth and drums. The band cites Aphex Twin and Kraftwerk as influences, but I thought DnB and House more than anything, and they didn’t strike me as particularly experimental. The crowd ate it up though, and it was pretty impressive watching a live drummer play fast breakbeats.
The people continued to pour in. I worried the whole thing would be shut down by the cops, but The Spot’s location, devoid of neighbors, was a definite boon. As Catacombz set up, the anticipation was palpable. The Milwaukee-based four piece played off this, starting slowly with a hypnotic bass line that gradually swelled as one by one the other players joined in. The set got noisier and wilder from there, ending with the most unruly number from the band yet. They only played four songs, bringing the (now officially rowdy) crowd right to the edge and abandoning them there. It was fucking awesome.
Lightning Bolt finished them off. I struggle to find the words to describe how truly incredible their set was. The full-capacity crowd packed tightly around the band in a semi-circle, while the band relentlessly pummeled them over and over again with blasts of unwieldy noise and massive riffage. Drummer Brian Chippendale is the most in-fucking-sane drummer I’ve ever seen (well, heard–I couldn’t see jack through all the people) and bassist Brian Gibson unleashed the weirdest, wildest riffs in existence. It was also one of the loudest shows I’ve ever been to–probably in the top three.
I honestly can’t say how long they played, or really even what songs from which records; it was all exuberant chaos. The noise continued until everyone felt like collapsing. And then went just a little bit more. Finally, after a failed attempt at an encore, everyone was loosed into the street, hundreds of kids soaking with sweat, a chorus of “Get the fuck outta here!” ringing in their ears. There were bikes chained to other bikes for a lack of suitable parking; all the cars were ticketed for parking illegally. It didn’t matter though–none of that shit did. This was one of those shows to remember for the rest of your life.
(A quick aside: many thanks to Matthew Dwyer who risked life and limb atop a rickety ladder for the most bad ass photos possible.)