Old Blue Last, London
Monday March 28 2011
Yelling and rhythm-ing and wrenching some decidedly out-there guitar noises out of six strings and assorted effects, Way Through are like a laboratory experiment version of the White Stripes that's in the process of going interestingly wrong.
OK, the White Stripes may be a too-easy comparison, based on nothing more than Way Through's boy/girl guitar/drums line-up, but then again who else are you going to compare 'em with? Showaddywaddy?
Like the Stripes (and unlike Showaddywaddy), Way Through generate maximal noise from their minimal instrumentation, and push it all into some weird zone where the music maintains a tenuous, tangental relationship to ye olde rock 'n' roll, but threatens to cut loose at any minute. Avant-rock that's so avant it's threatening to leave rock behind. A long, strange trip in prospect there, I'm sure.
what would happen if the college music geeks took over the art department for
a party. A noisy, clattering, cacophonous, 100mph punk-rock-from-outer-space
They all look like reassuringly ordinary people, but they kick up a racket that sounds like a stack of saucepans falling down a mineshaft.
Well, that's not quite true, because in amongst their post-prog,
punkzoid clatter, Kit do have fragments of actual pop songs, although those
fragments have been glued together into all manner of strange shapes.
Kit are exhilarating, but also strangely exhausting. When they eventually slam and crash to a finish, you feel like you've just been put through a heavy session of random gymnastics. For fans of avant-punk types like Health and Pre, I think. And saucepans. And mineshafts.
Extraneous clutter is shoved to the sides of the stage now,
for while there are only two people in TEARIST,
the band still needs plenty of space to perform. To be exact, it's vocalist
and found-percussion manipulator Yasmine Kittles who needs the space. Electronix
controller William Menchaca looms impassively behind his stack-o-gear at the
back, but as soon as he sets up the rolling electro thunder, it's as if he
sends some occult signal into the air.
Yasmine twitches, stiffens, strkes attitudes, and hurls herself into odd contortions as if TEARIST's music contains some arcane galvanizing force, something beyond the beats and sequences, sweeps and bleeps that us mere mortals can hear. She sings with a strange imperative force, as if this is something she's got to do, and while her vocals are powerful it's her physical presence that makes the show. It's as if something primal has been triggered within her.
I always say that the best performers are the slightly scary ones. Yasmine doesn't come across as an immediate threat to the audience's health and safety - whatever is driving her preformance, it's not the usual display of showbizzy faux-intimidation I've seen from umpteen tough-guy rock gods. But even so, when she pauses between songs, hears the audience's chatter, and suddenly demands, "What are you talking about? No, really, I want to know," everybody looks apprehensive and guilty, as if they've been caught cheating in an exam and must now expect punishment.
The atmosphere becomes unsettled; the between-song interludes are noticeably quieter from here on in.
Maybe the crowd decides it's best not to mess with a woman who's brandishing large chunks of metal, for Yasmine grabs her scrap-metal percussion objects and, now scrabbling on the floor, now striding across the stage as if exploring the bounds of a cage, starts feeding in counter-rhythms of reverb-soaked scrapes and clanks to the electronic soup.
In a blurred, clamouring cacophony of metal-on-metal and electonics-on-electronics, the whole TEARIST experience becomes physical, corporeal, somehow even carnal - and I don't think I've ever had occasion to describe an electronic band in such terms.
Suddenly Yasmine is attacking the stage, the lighting rig, the fixtures and fittings, hammering at the hardware with her microphone held close to the point of impact, as if the Old Blue Last itself is her instrument. It's at once daunting and enticing - the crowd doesn't know whether to hang back, or surge forward, grab stuff and join in.
When William finally pulls the plugs, and Yasmine lets her metal objects drop and utters a polite "Thank you," it's almost a shock to find that normality still exists after TEARIST have had their way with it.
Come to that, after all the bashing and battering, I'm quite relieved that the building is still standing.
For more photos from this gig,