A MOVEMENT I CANT QUITE DESCRIBE
The New Thrill Parade January Thirteenth 2007
It was the whateverth anniversary of the Bike Church (an organization that assits people in getting to places easier and cheaper and more energy efficient). The show was there, at the Bike Church on Pacific and Spruce. The opening band was a group of hard-rocking minors with quite the setlist. The headlining band was The New Thrill Parade (an organization that assists people in getting to places more confusing and perilous), and because they take the audience right to the breaking point with them, who knows if someone might die? Bathed in the flickering warning of red and white bikelights, they donned assorted mascaras with arrows on their faces pointing not any particular direction. Each member was dressed monochromatically in the darker primary colors, grey, green, blue, black.
There was a band, Mike's band Elliotfuckingsmith, that played once at a show on Market St. it might have been, and at one point I wasn't sure if they were tuning up or fucking around or actually playing a song, because the movement of the band was such that the three things were indistinguishable. They were sublimely insouciant, oblivious, to what was happening around them. As The New Thrill Parade "tuned up", it felt like this song. The yelps were informed and appropriate, the saxophone only hit the high, effective notes. The guitar and bass hit the same notes, but different: the guitar a splatter of silver paint to the basses empty combative bottle of gin at the end of the bar.
The first show I went to in Santa Cruz was an earlier incarnation of the New Thrill Parade called The Gross Gang. They played in a district called Costcoland in a house called The Wave. We crowded about forty to a room just a little bit bigger than your bedroom and when they began the first song, "Angry Hands" the entire room began quaking and I swear to God windows broke and I thought something about my bones was going to be shattered in the ensuing movement. People just knew to respond to the perfect bassline and the "go ahead, fight me" vocals. And that was probably the scariest moment of my life, at the end of the first repetition of the riff of that song, when the lights went out, I was just a nightmare among hundreds of other huddleds in a crowded cargo hull headed to America. We swayed and at one point I was actually thrown
into the kitchen, the floor completely caked in mud.
And they have only gotten better. It seems like each show they do something completely different, a combination of costumes and songs (each song is like a middle finger held firmly in the face of someone you are meeting for the first time, they get the gist of what you mean but can't quite step to it) the band moves magically in incomprehensible patterns, it seems like they must practice eight hours every day. And the sound together is like an out of control construction crew breaking free of their assigned project and lighting out upon the town; tearing apart ATMs with their claws and bulldozering the Sports Utility Vehicle contents of entire parking lots across America and wrecking balls smashing town halls and dynamite crews inserting deftly into the foundation of every Quail Run and Chaminade suburb and detonating at exactly the perfect moment. The band looks and acts insane, but perfectly composed at the same time.
Marcello, the cute one, played a pile of cymbals on the ground with a series of lead pipes- though the more prominent percussion attraction was a white mesh door that he had leant against a file cabinet and would strike or scrape every once in a while. This door seperated the audience from the otherwordly gyrations and combative jumpings-on of singer Amitai, and it may have saved our lives. At past shows, the band and audience would merge and violence would ensue. Think suicide bombings. Instead it fit into the rooms perfect furnishings, skeletons of bicycles hanging centimeters from the band's heads, the room hot with breathing and bodies, a contrast with the single digit farenheits outside.
When I'm at other shows, I'll look at the drummer and I'll think about what he's doing. And then I'll look at the bass player and I'll think about what he's doing. And then my thought is 'this is what the drummer is doing and this is what the bass player is doing', but when there is a band in front of you that threatens so effectively, and pays off so perfectly like the New Thrill Parade, all you can do is gawk, and hope that you and everyone else in the audience passes away easy before their set ends. After all, the drums are shards of metal flying randomly about the room with aggressive superhuman logic and the keyboard defies you to stop the bleeding. But even a harsh expiration wouldn't be so rough, to know that you had ended in the prime of your life. Only looking forward, if you can last that long.