Wolf Eyes

  • London
  • United Kingdom
  • Barden's Boudoir
  • 2005-07-11

I didn’t know what to expect from Wolf Eyes. Most of what I’d heard had sounded like what I’d been told about — an unholy cacophony of shit, with tempests of horror—inducing noise. On the other hand, I’d heard a couple of songs that sounded like substandard ‘playing my older sibling’s keyboard’ electro—widdling. I was eager to see what they’d do live.

The second band on, “Leopard Leg,” had spent the preceding part of the gig handing out bad poetry to everyone — “…it was so sad when the billboards stopped smiling” — whilst dressed as leopards (or rather they had whiskers drawn on in face paint). They were quite fun, but failed to elaborate on their one droning, doomy riff over a flat clunking drumbeat, except with an occasional strangled scream. Apparently it was necessary for twenty people to take part in this, though I’m not sure why.

“Duracell” is a drummer, who accompanies himself on a laptop. He started out with covers of Nintendo songs, before embarking on a string of one—man Lightning Bolt covers. Setting up the computer to play backing noises, he was free to let rip with a frantic cyclone of snare and cymbals, all with timing so crisp you could put salt and vinegar on it. As far as (pointless comparisons of) one-man-bands go, Duracell kicks the shit out of Dick van Dyke.

Feedback and screeching are augmented with layer after layer of white noise and distorted samples.

By the time Wolf Eyes came on, everyone had nearly melted in the heat. Despite this, everyone was still trying to cram ever closer together, to get to the front of the tiny stage. They started with the sort of feedback you usually get at the beginning of a gig, when guitars are being plugged in. What marks Wolf Eyes out from out from other bands is that this in fact forms an integral part of their entire set. Feedback and screeching are augmented with layer after layer of white noise and distorted samples. After a couple of minutes of this, people started to close their eyes and nod their heads in time to a rhythm I couldn’t hear. I’m not sure if it was my ignorance, but it seemed that different people could hear different rhythms being played…

Then things heated up — a subtle change in tone meant that the white noise became much more menacing, and the audience started heaving in time to a throbbing, swelling sensation, which gradually turned into a jarring, pounding beat. It didn’t sound quite like a drum — I was later told it was a guitar being punched. Added to this this was a plank of wood with a bass string an inch thick gaffer taped around it — which was also punched….. with….. a….. skull….. crunch….. ing….. steadiness.

At this point the crowd lost it, and about thirty skinny boys all bounced off each other and the floor. They all had massive grins on their faces, like they’d waited their whole lives to have their ears pounded by a disgusting noise, and get knocked onto a beer—sticky floor by a sweaty man they’d never met, in a dark room hot enough to melt the wax in your ears. At times I felt like I agreed with them; in some ways, the intensity of the experience made it enjoyable by default. (Although if a Wolf Eyes gig was something the police had done to me, I’d be suing Home Office for every penny they’re worth.)

At other times I wasn’t so sure. I was just made a little cautious by the fact that people carried on dancing to a monotone screech even after the beat had stopped — it made me slightly suspicious that they were reacting this way to Wolf Eyes (though they didn’t do the same thing for the first [very similar] band on) because they’d read in “The Wire” that it’s what you’re supposed to do at a Wolf Eyes gig.

…because they’d read in “The Wire” that it’s what you’re supposed to do at a Wolf Eyes gig.

Still, it’s easy to be cynical — and if you just let the sound wash over you and carry you away, this kind of music can be among the most exciting live experiences of anything you can hope to see. It’s certainly more interesting than yet another bastard twanging a guitar; accompanied by drums played in a flat four claiming to be ‘innovative’.

Having said all that, the thing that made the most lasting impression on me about the Wolf Eyes gig was not anything to do do with their music, but how unbelievably HOT it was. A combination of the low ceiling, and the hordes of sweaty boys dancing and throwing themselves about like demented things with rabies, meant that by the end my fingertips had gone wrinkly with sweat, and people were climbing on tables to escape the dense layer of sweating flesh. Good fun, but a relief to be outside in the street again.

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