Thursday, 3 October 2013

Review: Black Pus + NMO

I hadn't added anything to my "potential concerts of the year" list in a while but this recent night featuring Black Pus and NMO at Urban Spree is now definitely on it...

This was one of those nights: A show I wanted to see taking place but at the same time having to struggle with the urge to just stay at home, considering all the stuff I would have to do the next day. Reading that the show was supposed to start at 11 didn't really help with that at first but once I had watched some videos of recent Black Pus shows on youtube (watch them here), I knew that not going out that night would be a thing I'd definitely regret afterwards.


photo by James Welburn
So I arrived at Urban Spree, where a rather annoyingly loud DJ set was still going on before NMO, the first act of the evening, who started their show in the middle of the crowd. They are a two-piece, consisting of the former drummer from MoHa! on a snare drum and some electronics plus another musician using some strange computer program to do... well, I have no idea to do what exactly. I also don't really care because what they did sounded pretty interesting nevertheless. Their set seemed like a live experimentation on drum sounds and rhythms and they combined rhythmic drum patterns with processed and sequenced parts and effects. At times it sounded like a crazy marching band walking through an experimental electronic music club. Not playing real songs but rather abstracts and motifs that followed and built up on each other, they managed to keep the whole set really interesting and exciting. They also fitted perfectly to what was supposed to happen next, both acts playing experimental drum based music but taking totally different approaches to it. My trek out this evening was definitely already worthwhile.



photo by James Welburn
Fast forward some time of chit-chatting in the hallway until Brian Chippendale aka. Black Pus climbed the stage to start what would be around an hour of amazing ear-battering mayhem. I'm pretty sure everybody is more or less familiar with his other band, Lightning Bolt, and Black Pus is not unlike them but without the bassist. Also, as Lightning Bolt are known for their energetic and wild live shows, watching Black Pus made it quite clear where a good part of that energy derives from. Chippendale was on stage with a drum kit, a load of guitar effect pedals and a wall of speakers and amplifiers behind him. Like in Lightning Bolt, he plays wearing a mask with a sewn in microphone. His voice, as well as parts of his drumset, were processed through various effects and the sound was not only brutally loud but also really really good. 

It's hard to describe what Black Pus sound like exactly, think of frantic drumming with looped bits and pieces of noises and sounds. These loops added a rhythmic and in some parts even melodic aspect to the raw drumming and in a way took over the part that the bass plays in Lightning Bolt. Chippendale controlled most of this by switching delay/loop pedals off and on by foot and it was fascinating to see and hear that even when everything he did looked really messy and hectic, he knew what he was doing. His set was musically very diversified and while large parts sounded like very free form drumming, he managed to slip a good portion of noise rock and grindcore in here and there. Then again, using many samples and loops, some bits sounded more like experimental electronica. I have no idea how it's physically possible to endure an hour of drumming like that but it was both fascinating and fun to watch as well as musically amazing.
photo by James Welburn

The Urban Spree crowd wasn't as numerous as I thought it would be but everyone I spoke to briefly after the show was thrilled and happy about what they just witnessed. I'm definitely glad that I forced myself to go here and, as I said, this easily made my top of the year list. Oh and on my way home, a fox crossed Oberbaumbrücke with me cycling just metres behind him. That was kind of cool, too.

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