Thurs Oct 13
20 NW 3rd
LET'S TALK CANADA, shall we? It's boring. It's an effing BORING PLACE. And the fact that XBXRX got banned from that very tolerant, very mild-mannered country makes me like 'em all that much more. (The band's not saying how they got on Canada's shitlist, so you should be an enormous pest and ask 'em when they play Food Hole tonight.) An XBXRX show is pure, snarling carnage—all split lips, band members hurdling into the audience, broken instruments and noses, backed by honking, nasty, little songlettes that burn themselves out in two minutes flat. It's all blast, no melody. A quick jerk, a crash like garbage-can lids bashed together, a quick, satisfying, climactic squirt, then it's over, done.
The wham-bam-fuck-you-ma'am act is great and all, but this is a band whose real beauty comes in nuances and subtleties. Like staring into snowy TV static, after a while images begin to form: catchy, technical, funky riffs where there was once just, like, BEEEE AHAHA AHAHAH SHDSH RRAH! EEEEEEE! EEE! EE! Perseverance is the key, and the rewards are worth weathering the skronk. (That is, if you don't dig the skronk, and are looking for more complex ideas. I'm down with both.) But, really, you'll only get that from the records; their live show is too loud and on the fly and geared toward peeling off your face like boiled chicken skin.
So. Then. The search—the journey to the center of XBXRX's sonic character—continues. Best bet is to ignore their older shit—some of which actually is shitty—and check out their new one, Sixth in Sixes. Where a record like 2001's Gop Ist Minee was as much sonic gibberish as its title, the band has since gone the after-school special route and "learned a lot about itself."
Here, maturity means great, glorious moments of psychedelia sprawling amidst what's oft billed as "guitar catharsis," but really just means noise. It's the potent buildup of trippiness in short, furious, layered repetition. Or the tangled three-note riffs that rear up over the Neanderthalic drums and sound catchier than that JoJo song you pretended not to like last summer.
As far as lyrics go, you're shit outta luck if you wanna make sense of this over the noise, but I think that's the point. (Point being: anxiety and passionate cultural dissatisfaction as evoked by braying like a dying horse.)
Opening this show is Portland's own Johnny X and the Groadies, once called "darker than a walrus' asshole" by the HeartattaCk 'zine. It's frantic, gothy stuff that's like Suffocation or Slayer covering old vampire movie soundtracks: spooky castle organ, electronic grindcore spattering, guitar as glass shrapnel in your skin, vocals like gorillas fighting over... whatever gorillas fight over. Piles of bananas? Horny she-gorillas?
Unlike XBXRX, though, this is all surface-level brutality. Don't go looking for something redeeming or beautiful or more complex; Johnny X and the Groadies just wanna fuck you up. They may piss in your mouth when you're passed out, but that's as intimate as this's gonna get. Wonderful double-hitter lineup. If you can take the pain.