July 21, 2018
Gunn – Truscinski Duo
Elsewhere, Brooklyn 7/19/18
I bought tickets to the Body/Head and Steve Gunn show using my iPhone and debit card. I just had to enter in my CVV code and I received tickets for entry into the Bushwick venue, Elsewhere. It was advertised as being 16+. I arrived at the back of a short line of folks waiting to be searched and ID’d. I was directly behind three guys in their late 30’s taking rips off a vape pen and describing it’s taste, which from what I gathered was just okay. One of them strongly resembled Bashar al-Assad, and was the one fighting a losing battle with whatever liquor he’d been enjoying (or tolerating) prior. He looked at peace while he swayed and fruitlessly tried to obey his buddy’s commands to keep moving up after someone got cleared to enter. I payed a special kind of attention to him, the kind one would give a person unaware that they were about to sit down in a fat wad of spent Bubble Yum (watermelon obviously) with no time to warn them. I knew the meeting that was moments from taking place would be a special bumbling affair, and that it would make for a great intro to this otherwise pretty standard show review. After being barked at once more to keep moving up towards the large seated man with the flashlight pen and prominent brow, the Assad grinned blissfully, lurched his mass forward, stood naked before God and men and struck a clumsy Jesus Christ pose as if to say, “Go ahead asshole. Feel me the fuck up!” This move didn’t prove wise as the bouncer obviously doesn’t tolerate foolishness, especially from drunken Syrians. He stared at him blankly and asked him just why exactly he was doing that? I didn’t catch the reply, but it must’ve been ridiculous, because the search that this man endured following it was one that I can guarantee out TSA’d even the best of ’em. Full pocket squeezes with the question of, “And what’s in this one?” after each and every one were handed out like candy, followed by rib-cage and hip strokes that actually looked like they might feel semi-good in any other situation. While observing this poor bastard getting a humiliating deep tissue, I figured I’d open my backpack pre-emptive, lest I receive some residual special attention. I walked up with a staunch, yet understated all-business attitude, and was instantly waved through. White privilege my ass. Humility, with a pinch of eye contact is still the preferred currency in the authoritative world, and don’t for a second doubt that it is their world that we’re in during that crucial moment. Your demeanor will decide your outcome. Anything short of complete surrender, whether it be at the door to a concert, or the entrance to the movie theatre, will have you dumping your flask, surrendering your store bought Mike & Ike’s, or grimly scarfing what was considered a well-hidden Starbucks Dream Bar before you made that sarcastic remark about having to open your bag. What’s life besides one big lesson eh? But I digress.
Gunn – Truscinski Duo at their wit’s end.
Inside I was quickly manipulated into paying a woman $3 to check my backpack as there were no backpacks allowed per Kim Gordon’s rider. “Nobody knows why, but we follow the artist’s request here at Elsewhere,” was the explanation quickly rattled off to me by the employee. “Fuck it,” I thought, “This one’s for you, Kim,” and I payed the cost. With that ugliness over with I was free to walk through the door and into the space. Once inside, I ventured into the crowd and the first thing I noticed was the volume. There wasn’t any. I didn’t have much time to ponder this as I was a bit late, so it wasn’t even 2 minutes before the house lights dimmed and Steve Gunn and this Truscinski character slunked out from the shadows and began suiting up. It actually seemed as if things got even quieter as they made their last minute adjustments. Gunn paced around his property like a pissed off uncle who just lost his wedding ring playing touch football at the family reunion. I suddenly felt very uncomfortable with such a lack of chatter. I yelled out “Gunn!” There was no response. Doing so didn’t achieve jack shit and all I got back was some wiseass’s half-hearted impression of my own wiseass outburst. I turned around and everyone was staring at me. Sweet Jesus! The Gunn-Truscinski act was fairly standard as guitar/drums improvisational duos go, and I found myself pushing away thoughts like, “I wonder how Steve Gunn behaves at Six Flags?” and “What would he do if I flung a full rack of ribs on stage right now?” These are questions one shouldn’t be entertaining mid-way through a noise jam. Things picked up about 10 minutes in though, as Truscinski began slapping at his floor tom along with the rhythm of a guitar that’s found itself suddenly out of it’s depth but keeps on talking nevertheless. Towards the end of their set they locked into an interesting groove that they both apparently realized and quickly and completely hacked away at, before settling in with a ride-cymbal / feedback comedown that brought Gunn to his knees. I could’ve sworn that I even saw a brief smile cross his lips. Their act comes across as completely natural, and even when things get intense there’s a stoic dignity that emanates from Steve Gunn, somewhere in his chest region I believe. Both musicians have obvious control over their mediums, and there’s sparks of beauty shooting out from the frequency grind of these two men attacking their instruments.
Body/Head get correct.
People milled about on stage doing mic checks and throwing out free samples of vegan turkey jerky. Moments after the lighting person bathed the stage in a deep red light, out walked Kim Gordon, followed at 8 paces behind by Bill Nace, splendid in his trademark Levi’s 501. A giant wall behind them suddenly changed into a frothing ocean with 1/2 speed crashing waves and suddenly the red light was gone and in it’s place were two white/orange spotlights that burned down on the individual members like the winter sun. Touring in support of their recent release, The Switch, Nace and Gordon started off strong, leaning into their wall of sound and then sitting back as to say, “Fuck art. Let’s dance!” Not really though. I’m not even sure why I even said that. It was more like, “Fuck dance. Let’s art!” Watching Body/Head play, one notices the two personalities behind the act. Kim Gordon rocking back n’ forth, focused on seemingly nothing, while Nace flails and lashes out, occasionally checking in on what what’s doing over on stage right. There’s a communication happening (I almost wrote that there’s a communion happening, but I guess that could work too.) Kim’s vocal work is a huge part of their sound and I feel like it wasn’t really handled well last night as she was usually buried in the mix. Not that I can be too tough on the sound person, as this has to be a real bitch to try and mix. Anyways, the backdrop film of people drowning was the perfect image for them to soundtrack, and by the end of the show I kinda felt like we’d all been underwater for too long. In a good way.
I wanted to talk to Bill after the show. Being from the same area of western MA, we’ve met and commiserated a couple of times back in the mid-aughts and I’ve always found him to be a genuine person. As I approached I was cut off by two blonde women who took Bill away. I laughed and shook my head yes. For me, the real pros in this strange scene not only know how to make the silence work for them just as much as the noise, but they also know that life is short and Bushwick is lousy with bleach blondes these days.
© 2019 cover my ears