Sun Oct 14
Disjecta, 114 NE Russell
Tues Oct 16
No Wave is a musical genre that can be loosely defined as the emphatic union of punk aggression and dance funkiness. No Wave had a pretty nice heyday in the late '70s and early '80s, especially among the New York art set, and included noisy bands (Lydia Lunch's Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, DNA, and Mars), along with more rhythm-oriented bands (Space Negroes, Come On, and ESG). For the most part, No Wave is characterized by emphatically abrasive guitars and dance-y beats; in case you haven't noticed, the Underground is currently having a No Wave revival freak-out.
"I think it's neat that there are bands out there that are doing things outside of the standard format, be it noisy or dance-y," says Sara Jaffe, who plays guitar in the Bay Area punk quartet Erase Errata, a band with a distinct No Wave influence. "They're appealing to the audience in some other way, and saying, 'I'm going to assault you with my crazy antics and noise, but I'm also trying to involve you.' I think it's fun.
"I think a lot of people are sick of shows where everyone just stands there and stares at the band because they're too nervous or too cool or whatever," she continues. "That's why I think bands like The Gossip are rad, because they totally get the crowd worked up, and they're not just wrapped up in the austerity of it."
No Wave is certainly a trendy sort of music to play right now, and as with any far-reaching revival of a whole sound, it will probably be annoying in about three months. (Remember the Stooges/MC5 thing? Eeeek.) However, though Erase Errata's sound can fit into the "No Wave Underground," it's unfair to pass them off as a mere facet of a trend. The band's new record, Other Animals (recently released on Troubleman), is a testament to their exciting energy. It's filled with Jaffe's jarring, cut-to-pieces guitar lines, funky-ass drums and bass (Ellie Erickson and Bianca Sparta, respectively), and the scratchy, shocking vibrato of vocalist Jenny Hoyston, who only ceases her hypnotic singing to bleat on a trumpet. Erase Errata's live show is totally exhilarating; they perform with enough energy that, even after only two years as a band, their stage presence is as commanding as any charismatic veterans. (Personally, I rank them in between Le Tigre and The Intima for live energetic output.)
Erase Errata's music is spastic, and to pull off the confrontational noise they set to dance beats, they have to be tight. However, this allows their style of composition to be a sort of free-for-all. Sara says, "I think I just put my fingers on the fret board and mess around until something sounds good to me, without consciously thinking about what notes I'm playing When we had our first practice, we kind of said 'One-two-three, go!' We played spazzy stuff for like 30 seconds and said, 'Okay, next song.'"
Perhaps the reason No Wave is so popular right now is that it does juxtapose disjointed aggression with fun--it keeps all the anger of punk, but it's also very demented. It's carefree, and allows people to be aggressive by moving their bodies in a specific rhythm, and dancing is a good way to diffuse anger. That and, you know, 2001 is 1981 in many, many ways. Why not music, too?