Live Report: Dysrhythmia, Wreck & Reference, Soren, Planning for Burial at Saint Vitus

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For the most part, living in New York is like living in any other major East Coast city. Periodically, though, something will remind you forcefully of its distinctive character. This show, which was booked by IO’s new bossman Fred Pessaro, did so for me. I have a hard time imagining this diverse bill happening anywhere else.

Though Dysrhythmia headlined, Fred organized most of the lineup around California’s artsy Wreck and Reference (interviewed here), who had never played in New York before. Wreck and Reference are more ‘heavy’ than they are ‘metal;’ their approach draws more from Big Black than from Black Sabbath. Like Author & Punisher and Pinkish Black, who also released breakout records in 2012, Wreck & Reference substitutes gritty synths and samples for guitars.

The two openers approach heaviness from oblique angles as well. Planning for Burial is essentially one-man shoegaze with a touch of black metal-ish dark ambience. Sören Roi, who also plays in Røsenkøpf, makes electronic music of a variety that I lack the vocabulary (and inclination) to analyze.

Electronics-oriented music can be dicey in a live setting, and each of the first three acts handled Saint Vitus Bar’s gloomy stage differently. Planning for Burial demanded more visual attention than most one-man bands do, rushing impressively from pedal board to sampler to mic. Sören, by contrast, was a purely aural experience. Visually, his set amounted to a guy in a fashionably off-the-shoulder sweater hunching pushing buttons on sequencers. (His music is transparently danceable, but the dutifully metal Vitus crowd stood still with arms crossed.) Wreck and Reference, meanwhile, translated as far more human, and far more metal, in person—manfully sloppy drumming beefed up the reedy vocal melodies.

Dysrhythmia made for an incongruous conclusion to the evening. (Their chief connection to the rest of the lineup is via bassist Colin Marston, who mixed and mastered Wreck & Reference’s No Youth.) I’ve seen Dysrhythmia something like four times during the past year, but this bill was the first on which they were the most metal band present. And yet metal they were; Marston and guitarist Kevin Hufnagel thrash onstage like they’re playing Gorguts tunes.

People tend to associate simple metal—sludge, straightforward death metal, etc.—with physical strength, and complex metal with mental strength but physical frailty. Watching Dysrhythmia puts the lie to this dichotomy. They are incredibly athletic; their bodies move with a degree of precision and economy normally found among sleight-of-hand artists and Olympic athletes. Though each musician pushes the bounds of his abilities, nobody ever showboats or slacks. Perfect balance; pure power.

— Doug Moore

Planning for Burial

Planning for Burial – Brooklyn, Saint Vitus 05 Jan 2013 from (((unartig))) on Vimeo.

Soren (of Rosenkopf)

Wreck & Reference

Wreck and Reference – Cannot / A Lament from (((unartig))) on Vimeo.

Dysrhythmia

Dysrhythmia – Brooklyn, Saint Vitus 05 Jan 2013 from (((unartig))) on Vimeo.

- photos by Caroline Harrison