Gang of Four Play the Echoplex This Sunday. Why the Hell Isn't It Sold Out Yet?
Gang of Four
Photo by Leo Cackett
Listen, Los Angeles. I know you're busy and all, but show a little goddamn respect. One of the greatest guitarists of all time is playing the Echoplex, a club with a capacity of 650, and it's not sold out yet? What is wrong with you people?
A little history lesson: Gang of Four were one of the most influential postpunk bands to emerge from England in the late '70s, with a jagged but danceable sound defined most prominently by the brittle, razorblade riffs of guitarist Andy Gill. Gill, who was ranked No. 12 on Spin's list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, if you care about such things, influenced several generations of ax slingers, from Peter Buck and The Edge to Kurt Cobain and Tom Morello to Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos and St. Vincent's Annie Clark. Basically, if you've ever been a fan of any guitarist with a tone music critics like to describe as "spiky" or "angular," your tastes owe a debt of gratitude to Andy Gill.
Other bands that probably wouldn't have existed were it not for the serrated punk-funk jams of Gang of Four's landmark 1979 debut, Entertainment!: Red Hot Chili Peppers (whose 1984 debut Gill produced), INXS, The Jesus Lizard (also Gill-produced, on 1998's Blue), Bloc Party, The Rapture, LCD Soundsystem and countless L.A. bands from the recent wave of postpunk revivalists, including Moving Units and The Airborne Toxic Event. So yeah, basically half the artists on whatever GOAT list Pitchfork most recently cranked out are
ripping off borrowing from the GoF playbook.
Granted, Gang of Four's current incarnation features Gill and a group of recent recruits; after briefly and gloriously reuniting about a decade ago, the original quartet of singer/shouter Jon King, bassist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham gradually went their separate ways. But even though GoF 2.0 bear little resemblance to the original on their latest album, this year's What Happens Next, Gill's guitar has never sounded better. For a taste of what's likely in store this Sunday, fire up 2005's Return the Gift, which features rerecorded versions of classic GoF songs and some of the most relentlessly vicious and creative work of Gill's career.
So if you want to hear a master guitarist at the peak of his powers for a mere $24, get thee to the Echoplex this Sunday and prepare to get your hair blown back. Would it help if I said Alison Mosshart, who guests on What Happens Next, might be there? I have no idea if that's true, but hey, she could be in town doing press for that new Dead Weather album. You never know.
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