Circus Lupus – Super Genius
Speaking of Joan Jett, she produced a 7″ in 1992 for DC’s Circus Lupus. The pairing was odd – jukebox queen and Dischord geeks – but it showed she had good taste. (The tracks also appeared on 1993’s Solid Brass.) Circus Lupus were one of Dischord’s more aggressive bands, not counting its straight-up hardcore acts like Minor Threat. Someone accurately described them as Fugazi meets The Fall; their rhythm section was organic and bass-heavy, while Chris Thomson’s vocals threatened to leap out of the speakers and scrape you.
In high school, a classmate of mine visited his DC area hometown for Christmas one year. He returned bearing armloads of now-classic math and noise rock – Jesus Lizard, Helios Creed, Dischord in its prime. Of the Dischord stuff, Circus Lupus flipped my wig the most, specifically 1992’s Super Genius. At the time, I listened mostly to mainstream metal, so while Circus Lupus weren’t that heavy, they seemed much more strange and threatening. The music was so dry and off-balance, and Thomson always seemed to wander into songs rather than enter them normally.
Now Circus Lupus don’t sound so hostile – the guitar work often seems downright delicate – but that’s probably because I’ve been conditioned by their offspring. Bands like Blues, Black Elk, and Fight Amp owe much to this sound. Before mathcore, there was math rock, and long division alone could split heads.