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
|Photos by Gregory Bojorquez|
PUBLIC ENEMY, DILATED PEOPLES, BLACKALICIOUS at House of Blues, October 7
Rhyming "at the speed of light," the Blackalicious crew got the night started with a brace of raucously ebullient tunes. By the end of their brief set, they were breaking words down into their smallest components, riffing on the letters of the alphabet with dizzying intensity. Local trio Dilated Peoples expanded on the evening's general theme -- that it's okay to party while making protest music -- with Iriscience and Evidence declaring, "War is how the rich control the poor," in the brief a cappella interlude before DJ Babu ripped open his Pandora's box of police-siren peals and junk-factory chaos. Like a morbidly efficient surgeon, Iriscience chanted, "I work the angles, sharp and precise."
It was a bit of a shock to see Public Enemy hit the stage without comic agitator Flavor Flav, currently in jail for driving with a suspended license, and minus Terminator X, now retired from live performances. Their absences led to stepped-up roles for Professor Griff -- wickedly caustic on the timely hard-rock anti-war rant "What Good Is a Bomb" -- and DJ Lord, who lowered the boom with a relentless barrage of inventively layered noise-terror. Hidden under the hood of his yellow track suit, Public Enemy capo Chuck D kicked off the set by warning, "You people in the front row ain't gonna last that long" when the music starts. It turned out to be his only false statement of the night, as the folks up front hung in there despite what might have been the most rambunctious pit yet seen at House of Blues. Inspired by rumors of war with Iraq, Chuck D seemed especially focused and passionate on the new "Son of a Bush" ("He's the son of a bad, bad man," Griff intoned icily), as a masked George W. clone pranced onstage to further incite the rabid mob.
There were respites from all that doom and destruction. Despite his righteous indignation about the war on terror and the whittling away of civil rights, Chuck D was in an amiable mood ("If you want comedy tonight, go across the street"), shouting out respect to "one of my teachers," LL Cool J, who was presiding over things from the balcony. Later, Mr. D invited chanteuse Medusa to climb up onstage for some spontaneous word-slinging, adding a welcome feminine vibe. He dissed Nelly and other safe-as-milk MTV rappers, but playfully saluted the Rolling Stones ("They're on the Lick Ass Tour") and various rock influences (his deft/def backup group kicked out some cool variations on "Whole Lotta Love" and "Back in Black"). Praising the opening bands, Chuck D said, "We're moving into the third tier of hip-hop respectability," the rap equivalent to jazz's John Coltrane and Miles Davis era. With such a rich flurry of words and heavy beats in the air, it was hard to disagree with him.
CLINIC, THE APPLES IN STEREO, KAITO
at the Palace, October 4
Clinic is inevitably compared to Radiohead -- a louder, punkier Radiohead, Radiohead sans shoe gazing, Radiohead for the jailbreak set. It's hard not to make the comparison -- Thom Yorke and Ade Blackburn both sound like kids with cancer, faces glowing. Both bands seem to be midconversation with horror we've only suspected, never encountered. Neither offers up beauty as an answer or even for beauty's sake; beauty is always an act of desperation.
But though similarities abound and aesthetic differences are readily summoned, the comparison is a disservice to both. Putting some spikes on Radiohead's outfit suggests that Clinic aren't responsible for their style, merely the volume of it. Simultaneously there's implicit criticism of Radiohead in designating them as the less rocking of the two: "Hey, haven't you stared at that empty room of yours long enough?" It's a way of shoving the skinny kid away from the water fountain. Radiohead's stasis is anything but -- it's an act of Lynchian bravery: staring at something horrible and knowing that it's horrible. Clinic's reaction to horror is frenzy -- the bass line pounds on doors, the guitar knows everything about emptiness, seeks to fill it while commenting upon it; there can never be enough reverb in this kitten's milk.
Live, Clinic's exultation and the hint of timidity behind it are even more clear -- the harmonium and warped organ, the backing vocals soft as wings rustling . . . our boy's snuck out of his room and broken into a church. Though it's tempting to read the band's surgical masks as political statement, the hint of contamination and the charms against it are remnants of childhood, very watch-out-for-black-cats, cross-your-fingers, don't-look-back. The only flaw in the show -- and on the new record -- is that the more brooding, narcotic tunes seem like unearned breaks; our boy's stoned, watching cartoons. Which no one begrudges but no one really wants to listen to either -- we want the boy scribbling, not the boy thinking.
The Apples in Stereo tracked some mud across their carefully tiled floor -- after a decade of housecleaning, they've finally stumbled into the garage; the maid's angry, rah-rah. A welcome change, but if anyone caught the bouquet it was Kaito -- as sweet as any girl you've ever seen three desks off, the music some seriously shark-infested sound. Think lager, think My Bloody Valentine, think of any mosaic intricately cracked. (Russel Swensen)