SOUNDTRACK: PG. 99-Live at The Black Cat, Washington DC, August 31, 2011 (2011).
I don’t know anything about pg. 99 but this was a reunion show that they headlined (even though their set is only 25 minutes long). This concert is the entirety of their album Document #8 (from 2005), pg. 99 plays noise noise noise so much noise. It all sounds a bit like a blur with screamed vocals ad thundering drums. In fact, the drums are really the only thing that lets you know there are tempos and time changes in the songs. As befits a loud band whose songs you can’t understand, Pg 99 have wonderful song titles like “More Complicated Than a Sci-Fi Flick” (2 minutes long).
There are some distinctly more complicated sections than just hardcore like in “In Love with an Apparition” which has a quiet opening (for about 2 seconds). And in the middle of the song, there is a much quieter part with just gentle guitar and vocals (although I still cannot make out any lyrics). “Your Face is a Rape Scene” (no idea if that’s an offensive title or not as I can’t hear the lyrics), starts with a cool rumbling bass solo before being overtaken by the chaos of the band.
The show proves to be kind of funny because the singer is constantly telling the crowd that the show is over (“last number guys” after three songs), they play three songs that last just over a minute each “Life in a Box,” “Ruiner of Life,” and “We Left as Skeletons.” Those are followed by the two-minute “Punk Rock in the Wrong Hands,” a kind of call and response of noise. “Ballad of Circling Vultures” starts off kind of like a ballad, with slow bass notes and feedback that continue for over a minute before the final minute is breakneck hardcore (with apparently everyone screaming something different).
It’s also funny to me how polite the band is–thanking everyone so much for coming and telling everyone to be careful on the way home (the weather was quite bad). Obviously the band doesn’t want their fans to get hurt, but it’s nice to hear them say so.
The set ends with the surprisingly long “The Hollowed Out Chest of a Dead Horse,” which clock s in at over 6 minutes. Amid the noise and chaos there are some melodic sections too. You can hear the whole 26 minute set here.
The whole of Document #8 is streamable here. It’s not that different from the live set although you can hear lot more of the dynamics there (but really not any lyrics).
[READ: December 12, 2012] Wonton Soup
This graphic novel is billed as a “Space Trucker Opera,” and indeed it kind of is, but it’s more like Iron Chef in Space.
The novel is set in the surprisingly not too distant future when space is colonized, aliens are everywhere and different species intermingle with regularity. The main characters are James Boyo, a punky/gothy looking guy with really darkly lined eyes (this effect is used quite a lot in more underground comics and although I don’t fully understand it, I do like it) and Deacon Vans, a dreadlocked space truck driver who only has sex on his mind (the age for this book is 13+, which might even be a little young for some of the language in the beginning of the book).
As the story opens, the pair are on a delivery, but Boyo is more interested in finding the perfect Wonton Soup, which is rumored to be at a particular joint out in space. They prepare the Wontons in the precisely perfect way (stuffing the space chicken’s head tendrils into its body before cooking it). But Boyo can’t enjoy his Soup because the first bite that he eats contains a metal probe which sends an urgent message from the captain of a ship under attack. The receiver of the message is the chosen one!
He pushes the beacon to the guy next to him and walks out. (That cracked me up).
By the middle of t he book a plot begins to form–Boyo and Deacon land of Plaxos for some spaceship repairs. Plaxos is where Boyo is from. This emergency landing provides us the backstory that we weren’t really expecting. Boyo was the number one chef in his class. He even abandoned his beautiful girlfriend (and fellow cooking student) Citrus for a year-long sabbatical as a space trucker.
Returning to his home planet can mean only one thing–confronting Citrus, his old teacher and the diabolical twins who are second only to Boyo at the culinary school–and who demand a cook-off!
This story was disorienting at the start because Stokoe creates so many different species and races all with different looks and styles (and the names he uses for all the aliens are crazy (You ever been with a Plyxlploplx, Boyo?”. And because although there was always a cooking element to the story there didn’t really seem to be a plot right away. And actually that was fine too, it was fun watching Boy and Deacon banter in the ship. But once the cooking plot comes to the fore, the story really shines. I have no idea if Stokoe actually knows how to cook, but the recipes seem believable (despite their utter unbelievableness). And Boyo’s teacher’s final recipe (which involves explosives) seems utterly plausible (if it weren’t so implausible).
I really enjoyed this story a lot more than I thought I was going to. Stokoe has the rough style of drawing that we have come to expect from early Oni Press books–very dark, with broad lines and moments when it’s unclear if Stokoe is really a good artist (he is–there are scenes of great art and very expressive faces). He also works very well with black–there are characters who are all black and he manages to make them very expressive with just a few white lines. But none of it is very “pretty” which befits a Space Trucker Opera
This was a vulgar but delightful find.