Strange Ways, Here We Come

Hard rock indeed: V9R9D excite the crowd at Big V's
Daniel Corrigan

V9R9D's music once gave an innocent man a boner. But during one particular show at Big V's, in a room bursting with grotesque behavior, this excited guy's reaction was the last to be noticed by even the most sober crowd members. Here's what goes down: At the drop of the first note, Malachi Constant's Carl Wedoff, seated in the corner farthest from the stage, spills coffee on his lap and burns his, uh...inner thigh. As he runs to the bathroom, he accuses V9R9D of rocking "too hard." Next, some guy hurdles the bar in a frantic attempt to reach the stage and proceeds to scream incoherent nonsense into a lone microphone. At stage left, a barely legal boy dances in a hypnotic flow of baggy raver pants. At stage right, a man moves in tribal jerks, rolling his eyes back into his head as if possessed by a voodoo spell and curling his lips into a deviant smile every time he looks at the stage. Members of the Vets, the Plastic Constellations, and Self-Evident are in the audience, listening and nodding their heads in approval.

The uproar starts because of the drum 'n' bass mayhem being played by the two seemingly normal men in V9R9D, the band formerly known as Vapid. Mark Bellomy's synchronized, semiautomatic drums blast the steady drone of chatting in the bar, while Jeremy Kuecker's loud-as-Cows bass cabinet makes people jump and run or stand in shock.

"Loud is good!" Bellomy shouts, leaning forward with excitement on a recliner, when we talk a few days later in my south Minneapolis apartment. "You get people's attention or you drive them out like a lightning bolt--zap ahh-oh!"

Still, Kuecker admits that he didn't know how the crowd was handling the noise. "We had no idea the audience was acting up until after the show," he says. "Maybe everyone was drinking the mystery vodka from the tap."

Or maybe Kuecker is oblivious to V9R9D's effect on people--and this might be how it has to be. Bellomy couldn't possibly execute his difficult drum fills and time changes without full concentration. Likewise, Kuecker couldn't pull off the eerie melodies that ride over his distorted and hypnotic chords.

"We don't try to ignore the audience," explains Bellomy. "It just happens. If there's a spiritual element to playing music, it's at that moment when you forget you're playing for an audience and you just play. You enter a different realm--a place where your music exists."

Kuecker agrees. "Our music abducted us that night at Big V's and transported us to that realm," he says. "This probably had something to do with the good audience reactions."

Good is obviously a subjective term. To Kuecker, it means the more irregular behavior from the audience, the better. "We're tired of rehearsed reactions to cliché music hooks," he says. "It's a compliment to see people react differently to our music."

The guy with the boner may disagree--he might have been more at ease with his own response to the music if he had been alone at home. But even in the comfort of your own house, you're not safe from the unexpected emotions spurred by the songs on V9R9D's most recent lo-fi release, The Boom/Bip E.P. (Snackbag). Kuecker and Bellomy mix classical, metal, and industrial drum 'n' bass to create what they call "intelligent music." Boom/Bip is refreshing anti-pop: The aggression is raw, and the repetitive musical phrases are meditative, and the only words they offer are in song titles like "Mr. Fuck (a.k.a. Mr. Jesus)," "Overwhelming Sequoia," and "Step 4 in My Plan for World Domination."

"We don't need vocals," Kuecker says. "We like the audience to think for themselves--that's part of the reason we call our music 'intelligent.'"

You can expect more "intelligent music" on V9R9D's upcoming album. Until it's released, they'll play some older songs when they perform on February 22 at Big V's. With any luck, the bar will be chock full of intelligent head bobbers, voodoo shakers, and hurdling screamers. As V9R9D's most physically excited fan might tell you, it's easy to feel yourself altered by the experience of seeing them live.

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