My son’s band Architeuthis played CBGB’s last night. (I know, I should have advertised it in my blog. But he had thought they’d play after 10, then they were supposed to start at 8, until they found out there was an opening singer and they were moved to 8:30, so I wouldn’t have been able to tell you when they’d be on anyway. That’s what I always hated about reviewing groups at CBGB’s and Tonic and even the Knitting Factory – the lackadaisical time aspect, the lack of printed information, the casual conviction that you should just hang out with the scene and expeeeeeerience it. For one thing, ten years ago when I’d review groups at CBGB’s I’d be the only audience member over 25, and last night I was really the only audience member over 25. I skulked around in the back with my umbrella, looking, I imagined through the youngsters’ eyes, about as hip as Sydney Greenstreet in Casablanca. A friend of Bernard’s recommended that I pass myself off as a record company talent scout. I realize there’s something to be said for just experiencing the music, never knowing what or whom you’re hearing, or when any particular performer is playing, or titles of pieces, or names of players, and that a lot of groundbreaking music has been introduced this way. But when I was a critic trying to write about what I heard it was tremendously frustrating, and now that I’m twice the age of even the bartender, it’s no fun “hanging out” quasi-enthusiastically with people who suspect you just wandered in from Paramus and that someone, as a joke, gave you the wrong address for the theater where you had tickets for Rent. I always had a policy – if I was the only person there over 22, I’d refuse to review the concert, and around 1998 I just swore off those three spaces altogether. I’m an old fart and a classical musician, and I want to sit in a cushioned chair, consult the concert program, and have the music start five minutes after the hour. Respect me less if you want, but I’ll know what I’m listening to.)
As I say, Architeuthis played CBGB’s, or rather the CB Gallery downstairs. Bernard Gann on guitar, Sam Brodsky on bass, Greg Fox on drums. They played seven pieces based on repeated riffs, with some 13/16 meter, a 7-beat ostinato at one point, considerable forays into atonality, and a tendency to suddenly cut off a mass of sound to strip down to one element and then build up again. Somewhat early-Sonic-Youthish, I thought, with loud energy, wider textural range than I would have credited from only two guitars, and considerable compositional finesse. I was thrilled to hear it whatever the circumstances.