Thursday, November 30, 2006

Indian Jewelry @ Rubber Gloves

My idea of psychedelic rock doesn't necessarily have much to do with 60's counterculture, San Francisco, or any other particular time, place, or sound. Of course, I realize that much of what mainstream pop culture tends to classify as "psychedelic" shares roots in a particular era and a certain pallette of sounds and attitudes, but I've always felt that bands such as Throbbing Gristle, Suicide, My Bloody Valentine and Velvet Underground were essentially psychedelic too, albeit with a much darker outlook and a completely different approach than the earlier and more well known psyche rock icons. Utilizing techniques such as repetition, sensory overload, improvisation, confrontational performances and rejection of traditional song structures, the aforementioned bands seemed to tap into the same kind of base level mood altering vibrations that Pink Floyd and 13th Floor Elevators pursued, even though their musical output was strikingly different and often in direct opposition to the psychedelic sounds of the past. The textures might be harsher and darker than those found in traditional mainstream psychedelic rock, but the often transcendent listening experience is quite similar at a basic level that encompasses much of what was revolutionary about early psychedelic rock in the first place. Namely, the possibility of significantly altering the state of mind of the listener, for better or worse.

In that sense, Indian Jewelry is truly a psychedelic group, and a damn good one at that. Their performance at Rubber Gloves last night was in many ways the best kind of slap in the face: an aggressive, unsettling and raw display of caution thrown to the wind in front of an audience that didn't seem to know how to digest what they were seeing and hearing. And you can't really blame anyone for being confused either, because what was happening on stage is almost impossible to adequately describe.

The band started the show by turning off the house lights, flicking on some strobe lights, pointing them at the audience, and pounding on a set of drums that they had set up on the floor in front of the stage. It was an ominous beginning to be sure, and it set the precise tone of the evening in about ten seconds. As the simple, monotonous tribal rhythms of the live drums pounded and stomped their way through the air, electronic beats, waves of noisy guitar and various other harsh electronic sounds began to swirl out of the band's amplifiers, creating a powerful wall of chaotic sound that was exhilarating, frightening and at times quite hard to deal with.

But as the flicker of the strobe lights and the chaos of the noise became more familiar throughout the show, a compelling cohesiveness began to creep into the band's music that hadn't initially revealed itself. Certain sounds emerged in the forefront of many of the songs and locked in with the rhythms to nearly hold the rest of it together. As guitars were soaring and feeding back, muffled vocals could be heard dancing around the rhythms, reminding listeners that human beings were in fact producing the music they were listening to. Electronic blips stood out all over the place, and sometimes the music took on a loose, dance-like quality that seemed to be fighting for attention with the band's otherworldly noise assault. There were certainly some missteps throughout the set, and there were times where it seemed that the band was sort of just losing their grip on what they were trying to do. The live drums were often a bit sparse, and sometimes the noise seemed to be just that: noise without much of a purpose. But during the many moments in which everything locked in: the drums, the cold electronics, the samples, the massive guitar bursts and the distorted, broken vocals, the band was able to crawl under the skin, play with moods and challenge the mind to dig a bit deeper into the whole experience. And although they probably have more in common with Flipper than Jefferson Airplane, Indian Jewelry's performance was an undeniably mind expanding experience that could be called psychedelic in both the most basic and most important sense of the word.


Blogger tania said...

nice review.

9:36 AM  
Blogger mikeyrud said...

I wonder if they'll get to hang out with Jandek tonight.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous scott said...

Well done, Ranger. Now's the part where I commit suicide for aaaaaalmooooost going to this show.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice review. the two opening bands were good, too. i had no idea that faux fox and the undoing were so similiar. who came first?

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was there as well and Indian Jewlery was pretty badass, everyone missed out by not coming... considering there were like 20 people there.

Faux Fox and Bob White and The F-Electrics were both really good as well. It was an all around fun night.

Why did you not even bother mentioning the two local bands in your review? I thought this blog was about local music? I guess because both of them weren't doing DJ sets. JK JK

Go ahead and blast me for saying anything.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thought i don't think it really matters i think faux fox was first.

1:49 PM  
Blogger joshbaish said...

Don't let a little snow scare ya:

Thu Nov 30 (Doors open at 9pm; $6)

Dressy Bessy
I Love Math

411 East Sycamore
Denton, TX 76205
(940) 387-7781

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dressy Bessy kinda blows

3:06 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

I didn't write about the local bands because we completely missed Bob White and caught only about 15 minutes of Faux Fox.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dressy bessy. Total suck.

4:44 PM  
Blogger HowardBobJohnson said...

I had the priviledge of being at the Indian Jewelry concert and it was intense. What is interesting about this group is how they have seemed to embrace their surroundings and somehow have managed to use Houston's nightmarish industrial landscape as inspiration.

From the vast chemical wastelands off of LaPorte freeway, to the meth labs in Pasadena, blatant christo-fascist monuments, perverted hyperconsumerism and sprouting Hindu temples. Indian Jewelry manages to take all these elements and convert them into rollicking psyche-industrial
meditations. I'm orginially from Houston and to be honest this is the only band I know from Houston. What a great first impression.

5:11 PM  
Blogger joshbaish said...

Just promoting a show on a blog, yo.
Dig it or don't.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous me said...

Yeah that's why Houston has some really great confrontational underground psyche/experimental shit. Because HOUSTON SUCKS!

Yeah I'm with Scott, I should have wrecked my Wednesday for this. It sucked anyway. (My Wednesday, that is).

6:28 PM  
Blogger brooks said...

FYI: Indian Jewlery doesn't live in Houston anymore. They live in Chicago and they just moved there from LA.

7:17 PM  
Blogger HowardBobJohnson said...

oh well that figures, thanks for the info............i guess those were just the connections i made in my head........still good stuff

8:00 PM  
Blogger Treblephone said...

First part of the article was a very well-written treatise on what psychedelia truly entails.

Excellent job, and you've made me want to hear Indian Jewelry now.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Zak said...

Good review. Wish I had gone. Thanks for the recomendation... downloaded a few tracks and this is really good stuff... gets better with each listen, especially at high volume.

5:53 PM  
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