Live Review: Beep Beep, Precious Metal; Mercy Rule/Frontier Trust tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 3:43 pm April 16, 2005

I walked around after the Dapose/Precious Metal set and asked as many people as I knew what they thought of it. The reactions were somewhat mixed. Most people didn’t get it, certainly not the ones that never heard this style of music before. One guy told me it was the worst thing he’d heard so far this year, but that guy likes bands that resemble the Black Crowes, so what does he know? I asked one guy that I know is a real metal fan, and he dug it, said it was more “black metal” than “death metal.” Another guy told me the music conjured the vision of a snake that had just been run over by a car, spastically flipping and turning onto itself, writhing in pain until it flopped over one last time and stopped.

For me, Precious Metal was unnerving, unsettling and somewhat disturbing, which I suppose is what it was supposed to be. Dapose stood on stage in his red Wolf Eyes T-shirt with downturned, bouncing head and played his electric guitar like it was violin, his fingers making odd contortions, stretching to pull notes from either end of the fret board. Meanwhile, a lap-top computer played prerecorded dark, distorted synths and rhythms that moved at about a million miles an hour — faster than a machine gun and 100 times as loud, the beats rattled my chest and made me feel slightly nauseous. Above it all, Dapose would lean into the microphone and do a voice-of-doom growl that was indecipherable except for its assumed anger. Who knows, maybe he was singing about how much he loves Panera Bread or the joys of spring.

I asked the soundguy if this is what death metal sounds like. He said it was closer to industrial, which I could understand. Dapose’s prerecorded cacophony was almost analytical in its approach, derived by breaking down 4’s and triplets to fractions of a beat and stringing the pounding evenly throughout each movement very mechanically, cold and precise. The hyper-sonic guitar lines were strings of minor-key arpeggios and distortion, like an avant guard classical pastiche. About halfway through the set, Dapose played a series of sustained notes that changed the dynamics briefly, like watching the eye of a hurricane slide overhead, knowing the worst part of the storm is always on the back end.

I am the last person you or anyone should ask about death metal. That said, this isn’t what I expected. It left me queer-headed and off-balance, like drinking caffeine until your hands shake (and mine were literally shaking afterward). That said, I thought the mix was rough. At times I couldn’t hear the guitar, which was too low throughout the entire set, drowned out by the hyper-staccato backing track. The vocals also were lost in the midrange haze. As disarming as the rhythms were, I’d like to hear Dapose play it all again with only his guitar and vocals.

I have to believe that if more people knew that last night’s Beep Beep show was the last show the band would be playing in 2005 that more would have shown up instead of the 153 paid. That was the announcement that Chris Hughes made from the stage after their first song, that this was the last time the band would be playing songs off Business Casual, maybe forever, but certainly for ’05. With bassist Joel Petersen headed out on the road to play with The Faint and Bright Eyes throughout the summer, and then drummer Mike Sweeney headed out this fall with Criteria, Beep Beep won’t be seeing any stage action, instead Hughes and Bemberger will write the next album, which they’ve already started, and which they say will be better than Business Casual. Cocky words.

Like the rare professional athletes that end their careers at the top of their game, Beep Beep closed out the year at the top of theirs. Anyone who hasn’t seen this band since the fall of 2003 is missing something special. The road has honed their sound as tightly as two clenched — if not somewhat sissy — fists. Bemberger’s stage outfit adds new meaning to the word “fey” — glittery breast-revealing girl’s top, slacks and shiny black Mary Janes (FYI, I could see no visible panty lines). One guy who doesn’t understand fashion yelled from the crowd “nice sweater” — the chump. Add to the wardrobe Bemberger’s dinosaur-arms swagger and retarded-guy snarl and you got yourself the most unique stage performer since the New York Dolls. I will miss seeing this band, and now have another reason to look forward to ’06.

Tonight: A show of historic proportions at The Brothers: Heidi Ore and Jon Taylor of Mercy Rule along with Gary Dean Davis and Bill Thornton of Frontier Trust performing together again for the first time since probably the mid-’90s. The event is the release of a Mercy Rule/Frontier Trust 7-inch on Speed! Nebraska Records. It’s not a reissue, as the songs have never been released before. I don’t want to hype this show too much because getting in will be tough enough as is. The openers alone are worth $20 let alone the $5 cover: Ted Stevens a.k.a. Mayday and Bill Hoover. I’m told that Tre will be particularly careful not to go over the room’s limit — which is around 150. That means getting there early — it’ll be a long night of rock.

At the same time, there are two other very hot shows going on tonight: Kite Pilot and The Philharmonic at The 49’r; and the Sarah Benck CD release show with Anonymous American at Mick’s. As good as those shows are, I doubt they’ll siphon any of the draw from The Brothers.

Bemberger’s Mary Janes.

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