By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
SLAYER, SOULFLY at the Universal Amphitheater, August 6
Some artists measure the pulse of the time in which they live; other artists seem to be inside the blood of time itself. Take Slayer, the veteran Southern Californiabased speedmetal quartet who released their last album, God Hates Us All, on September 11, 2001. The last time I saw these guys was on January 15, 1991, at the Sports Arena downtown; at midnight that night, probably not too long after Slayer closed their show with "Angel of Death," the deadline that George Bush I, Congress and the U.N. had set for Iraq to exit Kuwait passed. Two days later, the U.S. began its air assault. So it figures, in some sort of poetically evil way, that Slayer's biggest show in L.A. since that night in 1991 takes place as Bush II officials are walking tall, rattling Chevron/Mobil/Texaco-emblazoned sabers and talking blockbuster sequel to Gulf War Part I.
That Slayer's music is so totally fucking appropriate to impending wartime is a point struck home relentlessly tonight. With original drummer Dave Lombardo back in the band, Slayer are all military precision, speed and accuracy; as a friend noted, Slayer formulated perfection years ago and are by now simply beyond any sort of criticism on a technical front. But with Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein and atomic explosions flashing on the video screen during songs like "War Ensemble," Slayer's performance moved beyond cathartic entertainment into something somewhere between propaganda and tribal war dance. (The Brazilian band Soulfly, led by exSepultura founder Max Cavalera, had made this connection to indigenous American cultures explicit earlier in the evening; their set included both ensemble tribal drumming and choruses of "Eye for an eye for an eye.") By the Slayer set's half-point, after 45 minutes of impossibly assaultive, immaculately mixed crunch-blast-scream music at high volume, the (overwhelmingly male and draft-age) audience seemed violently energized and absolutely suggestible -- feeling barbarian, waiting for kill orders. By the time singer-bassist Tom Araya got around to barking, "Are you proud?Always be proud of who you are!," I was half expecting to encounter U.S. military sign-up booths in the concourse at the show's conclusion.
Slayer once wrote a song called "Expendable Youth," but who'd have thought that was a fate they wished for their own audience? I'd like to volunteer Slayer's four members -- and Rick Rubin, Slayer's executive producer -- for service instead. These guys are perfectly suited to helping America's war efforts: They're technically superproficient, fearsomely aggressive and absolute moral imbeciles. (Jay Babcock)
DJ IRENE at Club Naked, August 16
The mixer reads 147.7 bpm as bass pogos off the walls and green lasers stab the fog in time. Exhibitionists are shoulder-tapped off the stage to make way for the micro-hotpants-and-pigtails pros in pink. Throngs of thong straps peek over hip-huggers, and guys shed their shirts to reveal shaved chests in sheens of wet. It's a scene rarely championed, but Club Naked and events like it represent a night of dancing for more people than spotlighted megaclubs and superstar DJ tours. Tonight's headliner, DJ Irene, has sold more mix CDs than any other American woman. Even at $40 a head, this is Friday night for the people.
E-music snobs need to face the cheese. It's an industry. It's performance art. But don't paint Irene with AM/PM nacho sauce. (Opener Thomas Michael played Euro-trance like it was 1999.) There's a fine line between camp and Cheddar. Irene has been on the underground side of the law for more than a decade, having held down a live-on-FM residency at Arena during its gay heyday. Her skills are unquestionable. She slaps down tracks and matches beats at first cue with the pitch controls down at full speed. Her mixes are long and funky in a West Coast style, even if her evolving sound is rooted mainly in the car-alarm hard house of England's late Tony De Vit. Irene's timing is impeccable as she blends on-bar until a new bass line kicks in and she grins that evil grin.
Critics blame America's homophobia for the slow success of post-disco dance. But those same writers would rather give up their Powerbooks than sweat to trance and hard house with this gay and straight mix of hoi polloi. Seems like the record-buying masses that made Irene's mix-CDs a 300,000-selling cottage industry don't have a problem with it at all. And that's the naked truth. (Dennis Romero)
MISTLETOE, SCIFLYER, THE NAYSAYER FIVER at Spaceland, August 15
I arrived in time to hear the Naysayer make quaint sound incisive. Sad like empty houses, and oh so clever. I wanted to persuade them to rob a saloon with me, or at least a state liquor store. I'm trying to avoid the term "alt country" (I mean, what did they ever do to me?), but it definitely had something to do with sawdust and sorrow. I don't know if the subsequent band was Fiver or if in fact Fiver is just a myth parents made up to keep their children in line; I'm not one of the cognoscenti. Could have been Sciflyer for all I knew. Could have been anybody with collared-shirt depression. These kids were so emo I wanted to smack them -- "emo" being upset over all the wrong things, very "You read my diary! You sunk my battleship!" Don't get me wrong, they sounded really angry. As do many emo bands. As does any child's tantrum.