Jason had posted to Facebook that the show was at 8, but I arrived at 7:40 to find Rhonda Is A Dead Bitch already playing to an empty room while bands load in. I don’t know what they were thinking starting so early, but they sounded good. They compensated for their current lack of a drummer partly by using some drum machine, and partly by doing some mellower tunes with acoustic guitar in them. These guys are different every time I see them, and this time they were kind of like if you took Jason Lowenstein when he was in Sebadoh (Travis in that role), got him on a 70s fantasy prog kick, then had him backed up by Chairs Missing-era Wire. I really wish they’d have waited until there were a few more people around to see them. Their set was done by 8:06. Afterwards, however, they all seemed very happy with how it had gone, Jason observing “nobody’s mad at us.”
Skin Of Earth set up, sound-checked, then were advised to waste a little time before starting their set since it was still so early, so there was an intermission. Besides RIADB playing so early, Druids had cancelled, so there was no rush for anything. To my surprise, Ember Schrag showed up, having heard about the show four hours before and deciding to drive down from Decorah right away… as it turns out, the connection is that Satanized’s bassist plays bass for her sometimes on the east coast so she took the opportunity to come see them and thereby see some friends.
Skin Of Earth play impressively loud low-tuned instrumental heavy psychedelic post-rock doom stoner whatever you want to call this stuff. They’re pretty rad, I like them. I texted Leah that one of their guitarists looks like a scuzzier Constantine Maroulis, to her amusement.
Statocyst was two guys playing one long loud droney probably-improvised soundscape on guitars with heaps of delay pedal. I’ve heard a lot of this kind of thing so I can’t say that it blew my mind, and I’m not sure so much whether I liked their set or just liked the fact that there is a local band actually doing that kind of thing. Noise music can be pretty difficult to evaluate since the quality standards are so wide-open but yeah, I’d probably listen to these guys more. I kinda wanted to try striking up a conversation with them afterwards but couldn’t figure out how. I’d love to have Distant Trains on the same bill with them a time or two and maybe even collaborate on something, but I can’t find any way to contact them.
By the way, I’ve talked about this before, but playing to half-dozen people is not uncommon in Des Moines on a Tuesday night, but one should still fucking bring it, and Satanized definitely brought it. Remember in the ’90s when you’d go see The Jesus Lizard and they would freak you out? You’d feel like something sick was at work and something awesomely horrible could happen any minute? Satanized have that vibe nailed; not only because the singer seems like he may have taken some performance tips from David Yow, but their sound is something pretty unreal too, a dizzyingly complex avant-prog-math style built on truly ugly guitar and bass tones and dissonances and disorienting time signatures. Also their guitarist eschews a guitar amp in favor of running direct through the house PA, resulting in that ear-lacerating Albini sheet-metal sound only if anything even more painful. It was fucking nuts. I hope they come back around again. Their new album is on Skin Graft and I rather wish I’d have bought one but times are what they are, so hopefully I get another chance.