What's Yr Damage?
Monday, August 15
Better than: WWE Monday Night Raw
In the subjective opinion of this County Grind contributor, last night's show at Snooze Theater in Lake Park was perfect. The Snooze itself is dangerously close to ideal -- with its cheap drinks, tucked-away location, charming space, top-shelf sound system, and incredibly personable staff and volunteers -- but we're not letting our crush on the place cloud our recollection of last night's affair, which included a mixtape swap (see photo).
With the Snooze's excellent accouterments as the backdrop, last night's showcase was short -- three bands, each playing for 20 to 30 minutes -- and sweet; i.e., the music was fucking nuts.
Opening act OutMode is a veteran of Tampa's noise-electronic-freeform music scene, and he applied his pedigree in cacophonous free-improv toward a thoughtfully designed tower of loops and on-the-fly manipulation. It was minimal-but-moving house party jams, emphasis on house. One attendee argued that his set was less Detroit and more Berlin; i.e., coldwave-slash-industrial. Mr. Mode himself reported to County Grind that when touring as part of Shakira's road crew, he spent some time off in Antwerp, Belgium, and played an Acid set to tweaking, appreciate Belgians. So it's probably safe to say he borrows a little of this and a little of that from the various minimal electronic-dance schools of bloop. He was the warm-up act, but it didn't take the crowd long to dethaw. Most stood and bounced their heads. A brave few took to the floor.
Guests of honor What's Yr Damage? were up next and pulled a certifiable fastball on anyone who came into last night's show with any expectations. WYD? were a benchmark of Florida noise and weird rock from the mid-2000s on but are on an extended hiatus these days, since guitarist and vocalist Adam Wood lives on the West Coast. Whenever Wood is town, the trio gets Damaged, and last night was a new configuration featuring Wood and Snooze collaborator Nelson Hallonquist on synthesizers, with drummer Greg Leibowitz manning his usual instrument.
Over the years, What's Yr Damage? revealed itself in several phases, starting with herky-jerky postpunk through a sludge-noise period and concluding with very minimal free improv noise. Last night's set, a rollicking Motorik-beat driven German-rock banger, was perfectly in keeping with the group's eclectic influences while showing off yet-to-be-seen compositional knack. Whatever Damage is, Damage is good.
OutMode was pure electronic, and What's Yr Damage? integrated keyboards with live drums. The closing act, Orlando's SSLOT, completed the transition with a set entirely composed of drums. WYD? drummer Leibowitz faced a gentleman behind another full kit with a woman playing a pair of toms, occasionally shouting-slash-screaming. The most raucous act of the night, SSLOT expanded and contracted in its percussive jamming, starting off slow and slight and patiently working itself up into a free jazz drum circle frenzy.
Overheard: "Who is Blunt Magician?!?" (said with urgency in response to the posted lineup advertising "What's Yr Damage? w/ Blunt Magician.")
Personal bias: Snooze 4 Prez 2012
Random detail: This was supposed to be the inaugural Magical Snooze Mixtape Monday (or something like that), but we (shamefully) flaked on a mix.
What's Yr Damages? Setlist: