What’s better than a concert? A concert for a good cause, of course! March 17th was a fundraising show for the residents of Crab Park Tent City, with all proceeds going towards greatly needed supplies, such as clothing, sleeping bags, and toiletries — all organized by Guile.
Freak Dream was up first. They manage a really eclectic blend of genres, at one moment industrial techno-punk, and funky noise-rock the next. Their stated influences include Nine Inch Nails, Grimes, and Prince. I recognized a bit of The Prodigy in there, Rage Against the Machine in the vocal performances of a few songs, and even some Geddy Lee-like high notes. They played with silence and minimalism the most out of the four acts; they would drop out all sound besides a few gentle beats, then slam back at full force, bringing the energy of the mosh pit falling and rising with them. They got in, they shredded, and they got the mosh pit bouncing like they were trying to stomp a hole through the floor.
Guile’s set was next. After a short lead-in, they unleashed a sonic boom that damn near rattled the lenses out of my glasses. They were visually fantastic; the lead singer affixed a thick metal chain to their mic stand, and the whole stage was bathed in red light. The vocals had a kind of wounded, desperate quality, at once violently pleading and accusatory. They reminded me of that painting about truth coming out of her well to chastise mankind, only instead of a woman armed with a whip, it was a moustached person armed with a thick chain and a sweet mullet. A highlight of the performance was near the end, when the energy dropped to a tense and driving rhythm. Then, from that valley, came the iconic bassline from Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” (get it?). They built off that bassline into a crescendo that was all their own, and judging by the mosh pit, the crowd approved of the homage.
Next up was Jisei, who began with a dedication to Eden Knight, a Saudi Arabian trans woman who recently took her own life after being coercively relocated and detransitioned by her parents. Lead singer Leda XO (it/its) brings an incredible amount of energy to the stage. Watching Leda move is like watching a tiger stalking back and forth in a cage it knows is about to break open, exuding a gleeful ferocity. Guitarist Alexis is an anchor in Leda’s storm, weaving a wall of sound to compliment the wide ranging vocals. Leda can growl with the best of them, scream like a banshee, and peppers in a kind of mock pleading. A review of Jisei is incomplete without mentioning that from start to finish, Jisei is queer; as they put it, queer as in “fuck you.”
Lastly was Blimp. Lead singer Josh gives a great performance, speaking calmly in between songs and howling during them. He’s got a yell that works as a bridge between the low notes of the bass and the higher thrashing guitar, and the result is a blasting carnage released in short, punchy songs. Their song construction evokes classic early punk bands like Death and Ramones, with crunchy guitar riffs and relentless rhythms. They bring a great irreverence to their material that is just plain fun, too.