Experimenting with Angel Guts

I’ve never seen the Jazzhouse so dark. Never mind the lights: I doubt a hydrogen bomb could have brightened up the mood.

And speaking of bombs, I wouldn’t have been all that surprised if one had come crashing down on us somewhere between Circuit Des Yeux’s (Haley Fohr) heart-jerking ballads and Xiu Xiu’s (Jamie Stewart and Angela Seo) metal cacophonies. The music of both downright invites catastrophe.

In an interview with Tiny Mix Tapes, Fohr said that her inspiration is generally either angst or despair.

“Generally when I feel oppressed and angry, my intuition is to be loud, abrasive and hard to handle. I want to lash out, I want to say ‘fuck you!’ and explode whatever I have been bottling up inside. I used to really get off on making people feel uncomfortable.”

And old habits die hard. Though it is difficult to imagine Fohr lash out, an introvert if ever there was one, with hair where a face should be and a thin quavering voice as she thanks the audience for coming.

As Circuit Des Yeux, however, she fills the space with her hypnotising gothic howl and the occasionally distorted hiss of her 12-string guitar.

By the end of her performance she is much more than a girl with a guitar: leaning over the rim of the stage she envelops the microphone with her mouth and the room with her primordial scream.

Dear God, I Hate Myself. No, that’s the title of Xiu Xiu’s seventh studio album and the song in which the official video depicts Seo exploring her gag reflex and finally vomiting over a chocolate bar-eating Stewart.

Knowing that about this experimental post-punk band had really given me the wrong impression. Eccentric they may be, but it's not part of their show.

When Xiu Xiu's songs are shocking and disgusting, it’s only because life is. At least for Stewart, whose brainchild Xiu Xiu is. The new album Angel Guts: Red Classroom opens thus: "Your face is down alone / On your desk / At the end of the city / You were squashed into / There is no one you love" and the performance of it is an irresistible suicide fantasy.

If semi-abandoned steel structures had poetic inclinations they would find this market saturated by Xiu Xiu. Einstürzende Neubauten sound suburban by comparison.

Unlike Circuit Des Yeux’s gradual unwinding into wildness, Xiu Xiu storm right into the energetic centre point of their heavily percussive instrumentation and suck us into deepest blackness. And from the bottom of this well resounds the lyricism of someone who is not only able to be vulnerable, but has been hurt before.

Ow. My neck hurts from all the headbanging.

Xiu Xiu
Circuit des Yeux (support)

May 24

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