Total Abuse & Rusted Shut at Mango's, 8/1/2014

Categories: Aftermath, Noise

Photo by Jack Gorman
Total Abuse
Rusted Shut, Total Abuse, RU-486, etc.
August 1, 2014

Summer might have been in full swing on the sweat-soaked streets of Montrose, but no rays of sunshine made it anywhere near Mango's on Friday. Partly because the tiny club's windows are pretty well boarded up, sure. But the deep, dank darkness permeating the atmosphere inside the place mostly came courtesy of the mean slate of punk and noise acts that arrived devilishly eager to challenge listeners' musical tolerance levels.

The night's biggest draw, Austin's Total Abuse, is a hardcore band known for their particularly anguished and experimental take on the style. Perhaps unusually, they proved to be the most pop-friendly act on the bill. Sharing the stage were local noise-rock icons Rusted Shut, who have been hurting Houstonians' ears on purpose for well more than two decades.

Punk terrorists Cop Warmth and electronic noise acts Breathing Problem and RU-486 played too, filling out what must have been one of the angriest, most distorted lineups the state of Texas is likely to see this year. And Jesus, it was loud.

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Crvnes, a Free-for-All DJ Palace, Rises at the Old Meridian

photos by Marco Torres
When Hyro (L) and Ape Drums (R) team up to play a set, they transform into Blackout.
Along a dimly lit street, inside of a dark and aging building, at the top of a haunted stairway, sits a shadowy and cavernous room. With a simple donation bar at one end, and a hard-hitting combination of CD-Js and speakers at the other, this is no velvet-rope club or posh cocktail lounge. There's no dress code, no cover charge, no valet. All that's left is the thumping, driving, and heart-pounding sound of drums and bass.

The newly opened Crvnes Warehouse, whose name is a stylized rendition of the word "Cranes," hosted the first of what it hopes are many more artistic ventures inside the space once known as The Meridian. The history of this place includes some of the loudest shows in Houston's history, a tradition that continues through the work of Crvnes mastermind David Rodriguez.

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Spud Boys' Revenge: Devo's Innovative Videos Drive U of H Crowd Nuts

lenticular Devo pin, 1982
On November 30, 1982, two years after "Whip It" made its rounds through radio and television airwaves, Devo's spazzy music had become the encapsulation of everything pop culture at the time had to offer. Though their catchy synths and calculated kitsch had brought them to fame, come the band's second performance in two back-to-back shows at the Cullen Performance Hall in the University of Houston, a good chunk of the crowd could care less. The venue was far over capacity, and few expected to hear Devo's one Billboard hit.

But on this night, a brand-new technology was expected to premiere to many eyes. It was going to be a video-synchronized concert, with Devo performing in tune to their own video clips projected on large screens behind them, equipped with simultaneously moving props and lighting.

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Riddle: How Is Dubstep Like Picasso?

Thanks, Internet, for all you do.
Although dozens of EDM subgenres are brain candy to me, I haven't personally given in to the auditory assault that is dubstep (mostly... maybe). However, I'm here to say that there is actual science to appreciate behind the work of Skrillex and many others.

If you think about it, many people argue over EDM's relative worth as much as they once debated (or even still do) the merits of rap music, pop hits or rock and roll. Somebody out there is trying to quantify polka and reggae too, simultaneously.

Regardless, EDM is a growing genre. It's the music of the future, literally. It's made with machines and robotic things that make silver-plated noises. But electric guitars, sitars, mandolins and banjos also all make sounds that involve a combination of integrated technology and talent.

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Booty Drumming Is Not Nearly As Awesome As It Sounds

If you take Jorge Perez's word for it, four bouncy asses and a lone cymbal are proof that music can be found anywhere (as long as you have four willing women to bare their bums in the name of art, of course).

Solidifying his status as the envy of dudes everywhere, Jorge convinced four women to bare their bums for his drumming pleasure and recorded it for all the world to see. Drummers really do get all the chicks.

As a jazz-fusion percussionist with the band Patax, Jorge is known for playing percussion on peculiar instruments, so this booty-bongo video may be of little surprise to anyone familiar with his work.

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Saturday Night: Swans at Fitzgerald's

SW Sept 17 1.JPG
Photos by Abrahan Garza
September 15, 2012

Swans will be the loudest show I will see this year, and the loudest show I will ever witness at Fitzgerald's. It wasn't until halfway through their set, sometime in the middle of the half-hour pummeling of "The Seer" that I realized I had a pair of earplugs in the car. By then the sound in the venue was less aural and more a full body massage.

Funny, most of the Swans reviews that I had read previous to this show used the word "pummel" or "pummeling" in some form. It seems like a misnomer considering the band's legacy. Using the terms "loud" seems almost sarcastic.

Swans' Saturday-night set, with the polarizing Xiu Xiu on hand as direct support, would last nearly two and a half hours, span only seven songs, and leave the audience feeling like they had just spent their evening inside a steel mill.

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You Won't Get Into Heaven Listening to Christian Dubstep

Driving home the other night, I thought I had come up with the perfect get-rich-quick scheme: Christian dubstep.

Roll your eyes if you'd like, but one thing I've noticed is that going to an EDM show is a lot like going to church: They both feature music, alcohol and standing on your feet for long periods of time. Plus DJs love to do the Jesus Christ Pose.

I was all set to grab some hymns and load up Fruity Loops, but I thought I'd check Google to make sure no one had beat me to the punch. Imagine my disappointment when I saw the album cover above.

But I was curious as well. Had they been able to successfully meld the power of dubstep with the power of Christ? I loaded up Spotify to check it out and file the following report.

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10 Bonus Identity Festival Deleted Scenes

ID color Aug 13 1.JPG
Photos by Marco Torres
Saturday: Identity Festival at The Woodlands

ID Fest: The Crowd (daytime)

ID Fest: The Crowd (nighttime)

Here's a peek behind the curtain: when taking notes on a show I average about one page per hour. That's fine for a show like LMFAO, where the bulk of the review is on one act and I have a bit of leeway with what to discuss.

Saturday's Identity Festival was long and when you spend eight hours taking notes you have to kill a few of your observational babies for the sake of readability.

EDM shows continue to fascinate me, which explains why I tend to take way more notes than I need to when I go to them. Here are ten deleted scenes from my show review to help give things a bit more color.

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Houston Musicians Gather To Support Noise Ordinance Revision

Bun B performs
Photos by Marco Torres
Disclaimer: Marco Torres was hired by Red Bull to take photos at Monday's #LOUD event, so we asked him to report back. -- ed.

Last October, Houston's City Council passed a new sound ordinance that dropped the Houston Police Department's requirement of using decibal meters when responding to noise complaints. The current ordinance allows officers to ticket performers and business owners based on audible noise alone.

This has led to substantial fines and even jail time for some in the Houston entertainment industry. Many of these court cases have since been dropped due to lack of witnesses and evidence, but the fight to amend and revise the new ordinance continues.

Monday night at House of Blues, Red Bull Houston and the Greater Houston Entertainment Coalition Political Action Committee held an event aptly entitled #LOUD, attracting many DJs, rappers, musicians and music lovers in support of amending the ordinance.

Rocks Off spoke with Joshua Sanders, a registered lobbyist and official spokesperson for the GHEC-PAC, concerning the event and the group's mission and progress.

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Boondocks Hit With Yet Another Noise Ordinance Citation

Elroy Boogie
Photos by Marco Torres
DJ Elroy Boogie: "I joined the club!"
Thursday night, the Houston Police Department was called to Boondocks for the third time in less than a month due to complaints about the noise. Three more citations were given, this time to DJ Elroy Boogie and DJ Klinch, and -- for the third time -- Ryan, Boondocks manager.

Here are my notes from last night (quotes are statements overheard from one of the police officers):

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