Gay Beast opened Friday's Entry show, and performed with all requisite spasticity, performing a half hour set of such complex mental math that its painstaking architecture approached abstraction. The devil is in the details for Gay Beast-- there are few bands that perform tighter, that miss fewer beats, that perform with less surgical precision, and that add up to something so perplexing. It seems to be their mission statement, but, as evidenced by the near capacity crowd that stood motionless and agape for their set, knowing how to react to the sound is moderately problematic. Too arrhythmic to dance to, too intellectual to mosh to, one has virtually no choice but to stand stock still and try in vain to predict the next change. Nonetheless, fewer bands are more successful in execution, and fewer still can leave so sizable an audience so deeply entranced.
AIDS Wolf played next. Embarking instantly into a formless porridge of noise and feedback, the Montreal four-piece made an instant first impression of such demonstrable self-seriousness that, even as the set approached form and rhythm in its middle minutes, an attempt to like them seemed foolish on musical and critical principle. The "passion" of the players, as evidenced by much impassioned gesturing by lead singer Chloe Lum and much gazing of the navel by the rest of the band, rang hollow, an act of pitiable posturing that made their unpleasant, deliberately unmusical noise elements all the harder to pardon. Noise music is noise music, and formlessness is part and parcel. But one ought never get cocky for strumming in open tuning for a half hour. The set took uncharacteristic form near its end, settling onto familiar rhythms and atonal guitar lines, but by that point, they had alienated many.
Skoal Kodiak headlined. Performing, as usual, on a completely darkened stage, they could not have more pleasantly contrasted AIDS Wolf-- this is experimentation of the most noble kind. Every atonal bleep and bloop is anchored by an incomparable rhythm section that is gracious enough to give listeners a toe to tap, all the while flummoxing the left brain into wild imagining. While AIDS Wolf sought to torment the ear, Skoal Kodiak wants to engage it, daring it to follow a familiar path through unfamiliar wilderness. The proof of their success? No band in town more reliably turns a show into a dance party of complete abandon. For their lengthy headlining set, not a body lay at rest.