Jeb Ebben
The show that almost wasn’t

Lightning Bolt at Studio Deep End

By - Jul 18th, 2010 11:43 pm
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Lightning Bolt at Studio Deep End by Matthew Dwyer

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.

When I first heard Lightning Bolt was playing Milwaukee, I was stoked. They’re one of the most consistently interesting and challenging bands going, and they’d never been here before. I had no idea, though, what the turn out would be. Actually, if I’m honest, I expected it to be pretty dismal, especially after how thin Thursday night’s Liars show was. But it seems I’m a poor judge of popularity, and severely underestimated the doofy-art-kids-with-ironic-mustaches contingent. People came out in droves, and they kept coming and coming. I asked Kelsey at which point she’d begin turning people away: “When there are too many,” she said. “When it gets rowdy.”

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.

Catacombs, by Matthew Dwyer

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.

More Lightning Bolt by Matthew Dwyer

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.)

0 thoughts on “The show that almost wasn’t: Lightning Bolt at Studio Deep End”

  1. Anonymous says:

    i think this band is terrible, and i don’t understand how they got so many people to see them, i guess this shows how confused people really are these days

  2. Anonymous says:

    totally true. if you don’t like them how could anyone else?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I don’t even like them!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I was originally going to go to this show, but ended up going to see Band of Horses at the Rave b/c my friends had an extra(free) ticket. While that show was OK (I’d never listened to BoH before), I kind of regret not going to Lightning Bolt. This looks like it was awesome.

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