This one is in Carbon 14 Magazine. Get the new issue—this is the best write-up yet because the reviewer (punk legend & L.A. Weekly scribe Falling James [& Courtney Love’s hubby #1]) actually comments on the DVD extras. Woo-hoo!
40 Bands/80 Minutes!
(Sounds Are Active Films)
Every Monday at Il Corral in Los Angeles, the appropriately named Sean Carnage presents a night of musical carnage with all manner of experimental, anti-rockist noisemakers and offbeat solo art-folk singers. This DVD documents the 40 performers who played at his club in one night last year, March 6, 2006. The catch was each band had to play a two-minute set, which most folks did by squeezing in one or two really short songs, or by geeking out noisily and randomly until they reached the 120-second limit. The idea is fascinating, even if some of the bands from this Hollywood avant-rock scene tend to be amateurish and abrasive instead of truly experimental and/or enjoyable. It’s surprising how many bands are boring long before their two minutes are up, including a few who make those two minutes seem 10 times longer. But there’s also some pretty freaky stuff that will grab your attention and spin your head around, like Bacon Tears Up Business, which is one just guy playing drums, trumpet and sound effects, and he cooks up a driving, droning groove. Some of the various guitarists sound like they’re out of tune because they don’t know what they’re doing, and then there are bands like the Amazements and Bipolar Bear, where the guitars seem purposefully sour to create an effectively new and bendable, Beefheartfelt sound. Veer Right Young Pastor also have an intriguingly rusty, twisted roots vibe. Captain Ahab and I Rape Nick Lachey put out a more synth-based, Screamers-style aggression. Anavan puts even more juice and swagger to its Screamers/Crass-like hybrid, and are one of the standout bands overall. Extreme Double Bubble spazz out until the singer’s shouting vocals are drowned in echo, while Erebus, Nyx & Stx are nightmarish in a Babes in Toyland vein. Faux for Real have a goofy, Gravy Train-like lo-fi rap-dance thing going on, and the saxist for Slutty Knuckles literally falls all over the place to get the proper manic tone out of his instrument. There are noisy outfits like I Heart Lung and Wives (their last show ever) dishing up landslides of chaos, though Halloween Swim Team steps away from its own ranting and raving long enough for a soothingly shadowy midtempo break. Abe Vigoda (um, not the actor) cranks out some neatly serrated post-punky riffs, Explogasm bursts with a kinda frightening heliumized-Chipmunks disco mania, and Harassor marches through the metalcore sludge.
BONUSES: There are two audio commentaries with the director and bands, backstage scenes, a photo gallery, and a mini-sequel called “10 Bands/20 Minutes” with “all the bands that wouldn’t fit in the feature.” Several of these extra bands are among the most interesting on the DVD, especially the creepy piano pop of Bavab Bavab and the out-there noise of Camarillo Blues Triangle, who are closer to the Stooges’ “L.A. Blues” than they are to real blues. Ironically, the best and most memorable song of all comes at the very end. It’s by the Health Club, and it’s one of the few tunes here that has a tune, pushed along insistently by doomy Joy Division/Middle Class-style chords and a nicely dour atmosphere. A successful experiment in rocking out.
-Falling James, Carbon 14 Magazine
40 BANDS / 80 MINUTES! is now online for the very first time in remastered form!