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SOUNDTRACK: THE MESSTHETICS-Tiny Desk Concert #757 (June 20, 2018).

This has been my favorite Tiny Desk Concert in a long time.  I heard about The Messthetics recently, how they were the bassist and drummer “from D.C.’s pioneering punk band Fugazi crisscrossed with the brilliant, skillful and younger guitarist Anthony Pirog.”   And it’s such a great band name.

I was intrigued that they play only instrumentals, especially coming from such a political punk band.  I also never imagined they’d play a Tiny Desk Concert.

It was Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day when this somewhat loud and sometimes frenetic band came to play at my desk. I couldn’t help but wonder if The Messthetics would inspire some eight-year old child in the office to one day become a musician, one who’d go on tell the tale of seeing these D.C. legends at an office when they were a kid.

Bob knows about Pirog (I’d never heard of him):

I’ve seen Anthony in a number of settings around town, including the brilliant duo he has with his wife, cellist Janel Leppin called Janel and Anthony. His playing can be understated and over-the-top all at the same time. It never feels self-indulgent and his music always serves the song.

But how did he get together with Fugazi?

Drummer Brendan Canty saw the guitarist perform once and they eventually formed a band. Together, Brendan and bassist Joe Lally are a brilliant pulse of energy and that allows Anthony the freedom to fly. The instrumental music they make is memorable, relatable and transcendent.

“Radiation Fog/Crowds and Power” opens slowly with some washes (and mallets on the cymbals).  “Radiation Fog” is but a minute long and then they launch some heavy rocking chords interspersed with a rapid fire four-note sequence that changes and morphs as the song takes off.

I love the way they back away from the heaviness and allows Canning and Lilly to play a solid steady rhythm while Pirog plays some great emotive solos.  Through the middle of the song, the tempo slowly increases and the intensity builds as they run though those four not patterns again and again.

As the song nears the end, Canning counts off 1-2-3-4 and they play that four-note pattern really fast to the end.

After a crashing conclusion like that it’s funny that Lally quietly says “Thank you.”   And then “I am Lakshmi Singh.”

They follow with “The Inner Ocean” which opens with some looped harmonics and other cool guitar sounds as the rhythm section joins in.  This song is slower and moodier with some cool high notes on the bass.  Halfway through the song gets bigger with so low bass notes and more soloing from Pirog.  I love the way his solo builds and builds to the screaming point before the song backs down again.

“The Weaver” also opens quietly.  It is a shorter piece, only three minutes and doesn’t have all of the parts of the other songs.  But it’s a nice showcase that these punks can also play beautiful melodies.  I hope they come back to the area since I missed them back in January.

[READ: October 7, 2017] “Tape Measure”

This is another one of those stories that feels more like an exercise than a story.

This entire piece (far longer than enjoyable) is about the life of a tapeworm.  A sentient, thoughtful tapeworm who appreciates its host and is angry about the host’s desire to get rid of it.

In itself that’s not a bad premise, but the tapeworm is particularly verbose. (more…)

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