Lightning Bolt and Knife World at the Triple Rock, 7/15/10

Lightning Bolt at the Triple Rock
Lightning Bolt at the Triple Rock

Lightning Bolt and Knife World
July 15, 2010
Triple Rock Social Club

If you weren't able to attend last night's Lightning Bolt show, chances are you still heard it from your house. I have been waiting to see this band for years, and I knew full well what my ears were about to get into. To prepare for the onslaught, I forwent my trademark fedora and donned some noise deadening gun muffs. I even brought some extra earplugs just in case. That turned out to be a very wise decision on my part, and I'll get to that later.

The Seawhores had just finished their set and the room began to buzz with anticipation. People started packing the floor as a spotlight milled about like someone had escaped from prison. At this point the venue had stopped looking like the Triple Rock Social Club, and more like Bikini Bottom. Small chunks of coral were perched on various points of the stage. An electric palm tree stood proudly over a wide array of horns, and then a giant clam shell was hauled into view. We were all about to visit the wonderfully weird universe of Knife World.

How can I even begin to describe this set? The antics. The stage props. The Hitler. Yeah, I'm dead serious. Hitler made an appearance, and it wasn't even the most outrageous thing about the whole ordeal!

Here is how it went down. The band started in the pit with an interpretive dance of sorts, and one by one they made their way to the stage. After all the band members were present, they put on a one act play that depicted a young couple at a restaurant with a gastrointestinally challanged Hitler as the waiter. Right before Hitler injures himself, a naked man-clam emerges to save the day. Just... watch the video (NSFW by the way).

After a few numbers with a full horn section, Knife World asked for a volunteer from the audience and a young man eagerly jumped on stage. I knew something insane was about to him, but I didn't expect faux crucifixion. The volunteer was put on trial and accused of everything from eating all the band's potato chips to sleeping with the lead singer's mother. After being found guilty by a mosh pit jury, he was wheeled off stage.

Knife World torturing a volunteer from the audience
Knife World torturing a volunteer from the audience

The music continued but to be honest, I can't really recall what it sounded like. It's not that I wasn't paying attention, I was. There were just so many spectacles going on during the performance that I lost track of the music about three or four "what-the-fuck?!" moments into the set. 

Man-clam reborn
Man-clam reborn

At some point the naked man-clam was reborn with three heads, and a bunch of people were invited to dance on stage. I don't know how it happened. One minute I'm in the pit enjoying some avant-jazz theater, and the next moment I'm shaking my tail feather with a bunch of cross-dressing horn players and a naked dude.

If I have to sum up the Knife World set in one sentence, I'd say it was like Gwar directing a high school musical. That might sound insulting, but it's not. I'm being completely complimentary. This set was one of the craziest things I have ever seen, and probably one of the most memorable shows of the year.

So how did Lightning Bolt top it? They started abruptly, and kept blitzing until the end of the show. They were two men at a shooting gallery firing bullets at a 32nd note pace, and all the bodies in front of them gladly took every hit. I will admit I was extremely disappointed that they played on stage (they have a history of playing on the floor in the crowd), but halfway through the set the crowd was whipped into a big enough frenzy that it didn't matter. Below is a video of their opener. There was a lot of pushing and shoving going on, so I'll apologize for the excessive camera movement in advance. 

I must have forgotten I was reviewing this show with expensive gadgetry in my hand, because once that mosh pit started going, I flung myself into it. I quickly became a rag doll, letting gravity do all the work, and then one tiny hit to the back of the head caused my protective gun muffs to meet their doom. I scurried out of the mayhem, and safely inserted the B-team into my ears while the duo kept up their breakneck pace.

I lost my place up front, so I maneuvered my way on stage and sidled behind their impossibly tall stack of amps. Brian Chippendale's drumming looks unreal at all angles. A few songs later, I grew a bit tired of watching Lightning Bolt play with their backs to me, so I hopped off the stage and proceeded to bounce around like an idiot for the remainder of the show.

My view behind the amps
My view behind the amps

After witnessing the events of July 15, I can safely say that everyone should add Lightning Bolt to their live music bucket list. They're fast, fun, and loud enough to wake the dead. They didn't play all the songs I wanted to hear, but at the end of the night I still shook Brian Chippendale's hand and thanked him for one of the best concerts I had ever seen.

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