After a full day of sitting inside a dankly weed-scented office — we did a photo shoot of some nuggets for this 4/20 issue — my first thought walking into The Root Cellar in Greenfield for an experimental show is “damn this place smells good” … and familiar.
I’m fashionably late and, regrettably, miss the first set by Fully Glazed (Richie Records, Members of Watery Love). After ordering a well-deserved beer, I sit at the wooden bar on the side of the room, with a perfect view of the stage. Never having been here before, I immediately fall in love. The floor is lined with small intimate tables with candles on each casting a flickering light on people. The red walls and the checkered floor reminded me of the interior set of Dario Argento’s classic horror movie, Suspiria.
I watch Dredd Foole — a duo with one guy on a sound machine and another using his vocals to make difficult-to-describe sounds — settle in for their set. I’ve seen concert videos of them on YouTube before, so I’m intrigued. Once the unrecognizable vocals radiate from the speakers and the sound machine — a collection of sometimes customized digital distortion and noise making equipment typically used by DJs and musicians, but for more melodic purposes — working its warping magic, all eyes turn to the stage to behold the sound of noise. This isn’t music you bob your head to, or dance or even sing along to. You sit back, relax and enjoy the trance-induced ride.
This is what I love about experimental/noise shows. Your brain just shuts off and you’re engulfed in mysterious sounds. Your usual way of hearing zones out.
Next up, we’re in for the long distorted guitar notes of Epstein, Melendez, & Krutz — a three-piece band with dual guitars and drums. They jump right into a pure rock orchestrated instrumental jam for about 20 minutes — nonstop. Okay, maybe a few heads are bobbing and banging along to this more melodic ride. Catchy, repetitive riffs weave evenly throughout the music, but end in a knotted contortion of distortion. Ever hear a 20-plus minute song and when it’s over you’re like “wait, that was how long?” Yeah, experiencing that live is like a blink of an eye. You want to back that track up and play it again.
Headlining tonight is Bill Nace, a Northampton solo artist who’s worked with Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. I’ve seen Nace play a handful of times, always in different musical concoctions — mesmerizing and unique each time. On this night he performed with Matt Krefting, a local sound musician, who I’ve also seen solo before — his music sent me to a scene in the David Lynch movie, Eraserhead.
On the stage is a folding card table with Nace on one side and Krefting on the other. Both are simultaneously turning knobs on some sound machines producing duel hypnotic noises that pierce through the room. They look as though they are in a serious chess match, but the sounds emerging are putting me into an almost vegetated state. The droning white-noise-ish sounds go on for about 20 minutes or so — seemingly on repeat. I’m wishing my bed was only a few feet away because I feel like I could slip into unconsciousness.
Of course the cheers and clapping from the audience snaps me back into reality. I drive home relaxed and looking forward to crashing into dreamland.
Contact Jennifer Levesque at firstname.lastname@example.org.