We caught the mighty Lightning Bolt during their two-day stint earlier this month. Geoff Cowart reviews.
A Lightning Bolt gig can take place anywhere. A kitchen. A car park. A garage. Yet even in a proper venue they often eschew the stage and set up on the floor. Such was the case at their recent two-day takeover of The Underworld in Camden.
The veteran guerrilla duo spent Tuesday and Wednesday night (November 12-13) shredding their way through their 25-year-old songbook as they shook North London with their high-volume tomfoolery.
They required just a five-string bass, a small drum kit, a lace-up rubber mask, a microphone, and a few amps. That’s how the Rhode Island pair like to rock. And rock they did. So much so that the fired-up crowd were in danger of swamping the band’s non-existent stage.
“If you feel like coming forward, go backwards… If you feel like going backwards, go way backwards,” said drummer Brian Chippendale with a cheeky snarl beneath his mask.
The band is no stranger to inciting a musical riot. The London instalment of their high-energy blitzkrieg saw Chippendale and bassist Brian Gibson tear through their nine-song set on Tuesday night – which consisted of songs pulled from a variety of albums including “Colossus” (from 2009’s Earthly Delights), “Horsepower” (from 2015’s Fantasy Empire) and “Blow to the Head” from their recent effort Sonic Citadel.
But their live show is more about raw power than their finesse as studio songwriters, as the Brians exchanged shredded riffs and double-time fills to the delight of the sweaty, heaving masses.
Watching from the sidelines it became clear that their playing is more about texture, with the cacophony adding up to something more interesting than the sum of its parts. Speed, power, reverb-heavy mic shouts and a kamikaze mission into the great unknown is what continues to define the sound of Lightning Bolt.
And when the guys are exhausted, they finished with a nod and walked through the crowd. Sweaty backslaps were exchanged, ecstatic smiles were given. Everyone had a workout and all seemed right with the world.
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Over the River and Through the Woods
Blow to the Head
USA Is a Psycho