Saturday, February 18, 2012

Man Forever in Pittsburgh - WOAH

Thursday night, Man Forever played at Gooski's. The band is the project of John Kolpitts, who's better known as Kid Millions of the band Oneida and most recently of White Hills. There will be an album out on Thrill Jockey in a few months and judging from the bio for that album, it seems like they played the piece "Ur Eternity" the other night.

Four guys were seated center stage around two snare drums, banging away. I'm not sure how long they had been playingwhen I made my way back because the jukebox was still going in the front of the bar. Each snare was shared by two of the guys, and they were getting this wild overtone that sounded like a guitar or bass. And there were guys onstage with both of those instruments - along with an organ, maybe a Farfisa - but they weren't playing anything yet. The sound was relentless: steady rhythms going on the skins without a break. Gradually the bass, organ and guitar started playing. They played one chord. For about 40 minutes. I think the piece worked kind of like a palindrome, with the instruments dropping out in the opposite order that they started. Can't say for sure because I was in the front of the bar, listening from a distance.

Writing about it now, it sounds pretty interesting. Sort of like Terry Riley for the stoner rock generation. I have to admire the discipline and stamina of the guys too. But Thursday night, I had to step away from the band. Not only was it unbelievable loud - they miked the drums for pete's sake - it just got a little claustrophobic after awhile. For those who haven't had the pleasure of visiting Gooski's, the back room where the bands play is pretty small and intimate. The pool table usually becomes a spot that people lean on to watch the bands, and the ping pong table is folded up in the corner.

Years and years ago, I saw a band of locals play something similar to this: I got there mid-performance as they were banging out an A chord, Velvet Underground-style. (I think narcotics might've factored into the set.) 10 minutes later they were still playing it. Five minutes later I left the room. Man Forever has more method to what he/they do, but it was still a little hard to take, especially after a few gin and sodas.

At the same time, I received an advance of his new album and I'm kind of intrigued to see what it sounds like.

Plasma Expander played first, all done up in hospital scrubs, complete with masks. The bassist hit his strings as they were taking the stage and it was so loud I think I jumped in my seat. Stuff like that usually doesn't faze me. They were kindred spirits with Man Forever: lotta one chord, dropped-tuned drones with the variations coming from the drums.

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