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
Los Angeles' Cruelty Campaign emit cobweb-rending scree, their accompanying slide show functioning not so much as a condemnation of Condé Nast culture as a ritualistic travelogue through it. Apple laptops mutilate nameless black-clad sound files, each painfully
amplified and cataclysmic. Deutsch Nepal (a.k.a. Lina Baby Doll) follows, a short Swedish man in short pants. Amid camouflage and concern, colored lights somnambulate across the stage as he sits and slowly spins cabaret yarns over an ever-pulsing wall of saturated, sternum-shaking, cough-inducing bass tones, pitchers of beer fueling the muse. It is the essence of rock music -- incessant beat and occluded, indecipherable words -- and any "music" played afterward sounds much more "musical" because of it.
Anenzephalia spits in declamatory Germanic tones with grinding feedback and rumbling winds as the audience crowds 'round. It's the band's first time in Los Angeles (as part of the Tesco label's "God Blast America" tour), and they make the most of the evanescent moments filling the evening. There are two live actions occurring concurrently: the apparent one (which fries synapses from eyelids to ears) and a more nuanced one involving plugged ears and deeper listening. "Newspeak" samples broadcasts as his flanged voice and vast turbine sound carry him through the point at which Der Blutharsch takes the stage, fog enveloping the 50 or so people present. As distorted blasts of choral samples emanate behind a helter-skelter welter of drums, torches are held by boyish-faced Austrian Albin Julius and his rather austere-seeming wife. Fists aloft, they sound the call to vigilance und volk, drums throbbing into a sleeping world passing into the next day without knowing what has come before. (David Cotner)
ELIPHAS HORN at the Knitting Factory, September 26
Imagine the fright that awaited the lingering jazz birds who stuck around after the Brad Mehldau set to encounter the polar opposite of everything they'd just learned. Eliphas Horn: scary. Say what you will about the anachronistic dark-age lore of the Horn -- playing only its second show ever, yet already the subject of a most riveting buzz -- but that late-shift metal shtick sure turns up a fine crop of 100-and-nothing-pound supermodel types. Apparently today's modern gal is down with evil. Most of them were wearing cloaks or boas, and carrying wicker baskets that contained -- what else? -- The Manifesto of Eliphas Horn. Inside the pamphlet, explanations of the B.C. (as in Before Christ) rock outfit known as Eliphas Horn were divulged, explaining the paranormal origins of Mr. Horn himself and his "band of inter-dimensional rogues."
But for all the cryptic buildup, including a 20-minute instrumental intro while the Horn's sexy disciples spread the gospel, Eliphas sure made for good music theater. For starters, Horn's mike stand was a man-made tree stump, and he caressed it disturbingly throughout the set. All four band members (names withheld from the sacred texts) were dressed in black, custom-made Beyond Thunderdome-type villainwear. They played in darkness, save a red stage light and a sparingly used strobe that played on their silhouettes. Calls were made from the audience for a fog effect, but the square Knit doesn't have a fog machine (something to do with safety regulations), so everyone pouted. The Horn's musical scaffolding is composed of Aerosmith, Pantera and Nine Inch Nails, but with the easy-to-read Cliffs Notes of late-'80s vainglory in the plumbing. And singer Horn's lung capacity is remarkable, especially on what turned out to be the band's prized song, "Creepy Crawlin'." In it, he did a hair-raising limbo motion and just let go, and eons of frustration came pouring out.
Sometime around the midnight hour, the set closed out, and off shuffled the dark lords . . . But Eliphas Horn was just milking the teat for an encore. Those busty maidens were going nowhere, and they called out for "one more song." The Horn obliged, performing the most intense tune of the night, "More Is More," in which they turned on some mountainous speed and ended in a flurry! (Chuck Mindenhall)
OPEN HAND at the Troubadour, September 29
There's an unspoken tradeoff in rock & roll between brute power and melody, between complexity and connection. Open Hand are apparently unaware of this time-honored rule: They have it all, all at once, all the time -- perpetually mutating, heretic song structures, spasming testosterone intensity and an unending stream of melodious vocal manna.
Drawing from their two self-released EPs (recently repackaged as a debut album The Dream), this L.A. foursome never took their eyes off the musical ball at the Troubadour, and faithfully reproduced their adventurous recordings. Two years of touring have honed Open Hand into a fearsomely self-assured unit who could play these post-hardcore anthems in their sleep, yet they lashed each one out like it was their last. After an opening salvo they gabbled the gasps and groans of "In Your Eyes" as if speaking in tongues, upper-body convulsions mirroring the call and response of otherworldly angelic crooning and clanking panels of guitar. Like a man of few words, Open Hand use unison bombast only as a final fist on the table, never diluting its impact through overexposure. The lullaby opening of "Life As Is" baits a tranquil trap for what follows: a superhuman tom-tom tattoo beneath tragically optimistic, multipersonality vocals and twinkling trails of lead guitar. Frontman Justin Isham summons a sensitivity from his versatile voice that defies his imposing frame, while longtime collaborator Alex Rodriguez batters out percussive patterns at once unlikely and inevitable. Newer cohorts Sean Rosenthal and Sean Woods have more than made the jobs their own; the joke-cracking, bass-slinging Rosenthal is a show unto himself, while Woods' hillbilly stylings lend a slyly Southern slant to the proceedings -- yet another change-up in an inning's worth of curve balls.