June 24, 2017
Lightning Bolt played Pioneer Works
For nearly two decades, Lightning Bolt have come to define the American underground noise scene. As part of Pioneer Works' exhibit Grand Ole Opera, the duo brought their live experience to Brooklyn for a night of intense pleasures.
From their beginning, Lightning Bolt have viewed themselves as an art project and not so much a band. Sure, their art is their noise, but the concept is really what sets them apart from anyone else. The ultimate bass and drum duo, the Brians (Chippendale on drums and Gibson on bass) make for some of the most brutal yet engaging sounds to emerge from a musical performance. It's masochistic in a way. Their volume is abrasive and songs can often lack melody. Their vocals are indecipherable and their compositions seem to lack basic structure. Yet somehow, they've been a driving force in the DIY musical underground scene and collected a following that's grown steadily for the past twenty years. Their fans are devout and appear at the most unique of venues to see the band unleash their sonic fury. So deep into their journey, it's remarkable the degree to which these shows are still enthralling and as exhausting for the crowd as for the band. Often, the venue's temperature rises to astounding levels and they're jammed with people deeply moved (physically and emotionally) by the jams set forth that it can, at times, feel like a true test of endurance. Their shows are demanding, but part of the appeal resides in the fact that those who attend the shows, truly love the band at heart. Brian Gibson's bass grumbles with extreme distortion and the sense that his bass is made up of far more than just strings. On record, Chippendale's drumming sounds barbaric and off the rails. It's pure chaos and yet somehow it ties in the wild cacophony echoing throughout each track. Lightning Bolt are known for playing on the floor to diminish the separation between fans and the band. These days, that's more of a rarity, but the guys still play with the same intensity and force as they throughout their entire existence. They're an inspiring act to watch and one of the more exhilarating experiences that brings the noise from the underground and into the limelight. LB is a band that decimates their listeners with forceful frequencies and rambunctious rhythms and yet, they've found a sweet spot with those that aren't typically drawn to noise. They've broken down walls and made their way into the light of desirable experimental music that adds an edge on record, but live is a whole other story. The cavernous setting of Pioneer Works was a supreme location and the brick arches really gave the venue a distilled and broken-in vibe, providing an ideal setting for the show. Settings are a key factor in a Lightning Bolt show as they themselves are such an atypical band and Pioneer Works certainly provided a wonderful experience for seeing the band bestow their glory on a crowd.