Live Report & Photos: Today is the Day, Black Tusk, KEN Mode, Fight Amp, Fashion Week
It’s fun, and sometimes a little sad, to reflect on the way that musical influence spreads now relative to the way it used to. Ideas exist in an efficient but chaotic marketplace these days; they can travel instantaneously and are restricted only by the listener’s time and degree of interest. Pre-internet heavy music styles were defined by physical constraints—geography, distribution, print-media coverage, and so forth.
The current state of affairs has its benefits, but rarely does it yield an identifiable niche sound. It seems unlikely that Norwegian black metal or Floridian death metal could’ve happened in the internet age. Their core innovations would’ve germinated before they could develop and diversify.
The same goes for the geographically varied but aesthetically consistent Amphetamine Reptile Records catalog of the 90s. Though the titular label has long been inactive, the ‘AmRep sound’ (which has become synonymous with noise rock, thanks in part to Amphetamine Reptile’s logo) continues to reverberate. This fact is significant. Musicians wouldn’t keep dredging those nasty depths if they didn’t think there was anything worth finding down there.
This particular show bore testament to the AmRep sound’s continued vitality. It featured a genuine AmRep alumnus in Today is the Day; three of the four supporting acts sported noticeable influences from the label’s roster. (Jesse Matthewson of KEN mode, who were the tightest and most technical act of the evening, sported a Cows shirt with a huge Amphetamine Reptile logo on the back.) Fittingly, the openers all played under a huge Today is the Day banner.
It was fun to watch the parade of AmRep mutations. Though most noise rock bands are stoic and understated in their presentation, local openers Fashion Week verged on theatrical; their strobe lights and masked backup dancers (yes, really) obscured their ragged grunge edge. By contrast, Fight Amp’s stage demeanor undersold their chops. When people write about Fight Amp, they usually talk about how ugly and depressing their music is. For me, though, they register as energetic, fun, and almost danceable. This gives you an idea of how preposterous my idea of “fun” has become.
Doug Moore's thoughts and Caroline Harrison's photos of Today is The Day and Black Tusk continue on the following page