December 7th, 2010 will be a very bittersweet day for me. I am glad that I am no longer employed, for the energy I brought with me to the Black Cat Backstage was one that had been missing from many shows I’ve seen as I’ve gotten older. Knowing that my late night out, enjoying some of the best music this world has to offer would not be stabbed by a shit pile of someone’s idea of what work is was a knowledge I could happily revel in through the night. There are times when you wish that you could live inside music rather than continue on in human form; rather than exist in this oddly restrictive physical world. December 7th, 2010 was one of those nights for me. The pulses from the speaker cones that electrified the vibrations of hands and fingers, bow and plastic against strings or the strained voices from the beautiful people on stage had me transfixed outside my temporal self. Instead a seamless existence felt possible with the rattling of drums or the deep reverberations of bass under my feet. I want to go back twelve hours, turn these menacing hands of time and stop and rewind continually, creating a spacial loop. This, sadly, is not possible.
The night’s musical demonstrations was headed by Brave Young, a band from North Carolina who, on the surface appear as though they would play a bombastic A-Bomb type of music that hits you in the face with the power of distortion and overdrive. Instead, we, the lucky audience, were treated to the gentle pulling of bows against guitars, winding chimes of bells, resonant drum hits on the tympani. Even when the swell of the musical storm was vibrating from the amplifiers, filling the room with a robust weight, it all felt gentle and sweeping. Indeed, musical magic was present. Another world occupied the space between bodies contained within a room.
One of the saddest things about moving from DC is that I will not feel the heavy, gory beauty of The Gift as they grow into the mighty elephant they are destined to become. Each time I see them they get better, as any band should. The confidence of this trio is now matched with an astral communication that is translated into the darkest, heaviest grace my ears have heard. This nights show was dense and dark, enjoyed by slow plotting in the beginning, heighten by hyperactive energy in the middle, and resolved with sweeping, serene movement. Beck Levy’s voice has grown into a powerful oration, the haunting allure of it crushing a memorized audience. A more unique and fixated talent can not be found during these cold, gray months in the drab dead city. The Gift have created the greatest séance to celebrate the brutal winters. It’s an energy that is jagged, but gorgeous and symphonious. Do not think that it is the energy of dark, for it is the acceptance of all energies and movement, those that contradict and complement each other.
Shamans are people thought to be full of wisdom and experience and if that is the case then Pygmy Lush are some of the greatest healers the world has ever been blessed with. Every detail of this band matters, their origins and experiences and friendship is just as vital to the music as the strummed chords or pushed vocals. They are less a band and more of a tribe, with claims to vast lands and many journeys through this life. The collective spirit that Pygmy Lush is can be striking and intimidating. They give to each other in need and from that take the most intense sounds from their given instruments. The addition of Eric Kane on drums moved Pygmy Lush’s music from the soil and into the air. The brothers (and I include all members, not just Chris and Mike) are connected at deep levels that can only come from the comforts and confrontations of friendship. The music, well the new songs that were on display last night are well beyond their greatest moments, making previous output seem pedestrian. The inclusion of “Asphalt” from their astonishing Mount Hope album brought familiarity and comfort to an audience already in awe of the unaware waves that came before them. Pygmy Lush are modest and honest and these two traits usually bring the cancer of under-appreciation to artists, and this is criminally the case. I will never want to forgo these intimate experiences for larger, less hushed and humble audiences. But they deserve the attention of many more than those that are willing to stop life and commit to something greater than the every day mundane.
Music, by its nature is transgressive. It penetrates the unseen and can move physical objects. It is designed to reverberate with in the engaged, but it is also external in nature, existing outside of all bodies of matter, filling space and air by force. It is as close to magic as I have ever seen on this planet, existing not through the complex building blocks of biological nature, nor through toxic formulas that are burnt together by man. The tools of music all seem so perplexing, a feeling I have even after years of holding them in my hands. December 7th, 2010 the last foreseeable time I will see music in Washington DC, the city I have seen the most music in, was a night of this kind of indescribable magic. The preceding words were a failed attempt at telling you a factual story, but it is not one that I could tell that would truly bring you there. I will never forget it. That is all I can say on the matter.