The Bug vs Earth / Bong (live at Heaven)

by Freq | 2017-04-20T19:05:31+00:000000003130201704 19:05

12 April 2017

The Bug vs Earth live April 2017Belinda Carlisle was right when she said “Heaven is a place on Earth”. David Byrne, however, despite the superiority of his recorded output, was wrong when he said “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens”. Although he was KIND of closer to the money when he said “the band in Heaven play my favourite song, play it one more time, play it all night long”.

Because first up on the bill tonight at Heaven are Bong, a band I have never heard, but from their name and seeing them as they come on stage, I am reliably ensured by my own experience that I will like them.

And yes. Some high fantasy stuff declaimed at the start, amps cranked up to eleven, and ONE MASSIVE KILLER MOTHERFUCKING RIFF blasted out at us for like twenty minutes. They’re fucking brilliant. Long track, short set, but I’d definitely be begging for more if the next act on wasn’t about to be the awe-inspiring tag team of Kevin Martin, aka The Bug, and Dylan Carlson of Earth.

Bong live April 2017

Sharing a stage, the guy who took metal to some of its darkest, slowest and deepest places before turning it into folk music and then rebuilding it from the bottom up, and the guy who took the heaviness of industrial metal to the outer limits of jazz before bolting it onto hip-hop and uniting the two different meanings of the word “clubbing”. Until Merzbow and Swans get together, this is quite possibly the finest meeting of minds in extreme physical music it’s possible to imagine. Or to dance to.

They’re playing their Concrete Desert project. Which I haven’t heard much of at this point, but which is by all accounts a Ballardian take on Los Angeles, that most Ballardian of cities. But JG Ballard was never so big on the booty-shaking bass, or indeed the heaviest of metals.

The Bug vs Earth live April 2017

And it’s fucking incredible. Although it’s framed as a “versus” match (“in the blue corner, Dylan Carlson, a Satanic, bearded and tattooed imp wielding a guitar, and in the red corner, Kevin Martin, the demon of clubland and proof that not all men with two first names aren’t to be trusted; ding ding, seconds out”) that is, as is usual the case, not the case. As it were.

The Bug vs Earth live April 2017

Martin at first gives us ambient sound (in the overly-intense sense in which smog and pollution count as “ambient”), isolationist drones combined with the sound of sheets of metal sliding over one another, while Carlson brings the Earth, the sound of a giant robot Ry Cooder soundtracking a Tsukamoto remake of Paris, Texas.

But when the beats come in? All bets are off. Sub-bass hip-hop “DANCE YOU FUCKER” signals are sent to all parts of the body, while hard-ass fucking riffs assault the ears. And then a slide back to the more ambient drone side of things. And then back to being pounded harder than a Chuck Tingle narrator by Martin getting back into the vein of Techno Animal‘s Re-Entry, while Carlson melts your face on the six-string, like cheese that you left too long on the barbecue, only much tastier, and much, much more awesome.

The Bug vs Earth live April 2017

You become only too aware that you’re in a railway arch, essentially a concrete tube which may as well have been designed to funnel sound right at you, and the volume hits amazing levels at which you forget that you started out by writing in the first person. And all the while this is happening, you are dancing my fucking ass off.

That guy who’s watching this gig? I envy whoever it is.

-Words: Justin Farrington-
-Pictures: Dave Pettit-

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