Show Review — Lightning Bolt at Rickshaw Stop | San Francisco, CA | 4.13.11
Skinner, my partner in sonic crime, has a way of capturing situations in perfectly apt and brisk phrases. Last week a group of us saw Lightning Bolt at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco and something along these lines was uttered: “Going to a Lightning Bolt show and wearing earplugs is like fucking Beyoncé with a condom. Seriously, that’s just not something you would do.” So the assassins rode raw and bareback into a sweaty pit of masochism. There was hardly a part of my body not sore and my left ear heard for two days as though I had been operating WWI artillery out of a trench with my left hand, clutching my right ear in the other.
The openers were High Castle and T.I.T.S. T.I.T.S. were a four piece of girls wearing cute matching black and white outfits, singing always at the same time, and sporting colorful vintage surf-y guitars. There was no shortage of jokes about breasts but T.I.T.S. didn’t seem to like the quips as much as the imbibing gangs of men. “We called the band T.I.T.S. to stop that kind of thing.” Stop what? Calling mammary glands tits?
tit2 [tit] /tɪt/
Slang: a breast.
Good luck, girls. (So far, this review is probably the most sexist thing on this blog. Sorry.)
High Castle was a young bass-guitar-drum trio and yelled a bunch of stuff over riffs that were pretty indistinguishable in the Rickshaw mix. They moved around minimally, the guitarist and drummer bobbing their heads a little and shaking their bodies carefully and not too far from their microphones. Stages in small venues are pretty awkward for performers. When you play on a floor there is a certain intimacy between you and the audience. However, with the slightest elevation but no significant change in distance, not to mention the introduction of a tank sized sound system with 20 subwoofers, there arises an “us and them” situation in which only seasoned musicians are able to thrive. High Castle could have played on the floor and it would have made them infinitely more appealing to watch. The music was fun enough and the energy potential high. However, on that stage they were barely acknowledging the audience, maybe even a little awkward on their modest pedestal.
Lightning Bolt was aural violence. Their wall of cabinets and gunshot snare sound were like nothing I had experienced in person before. Their performance was more of a well armed defense as dozens of us were being thrown onto the stage by the kinetic forces of a young horde. I ended up under the ride, my back up against one side of the bass drum where I was able to take some pictures with my shitty phone camera.