March 19, 2019

This Is Not This Heat played (Le) Poisson Rouge

This Is Not This Heat played lots of This Heat songs as they came to (Le) Poisson Rouge on the road to Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, TN.

This Heat were never a popular band, but their legacy influenced countless acts like Swans, Shellac, Sonic Youth, Slint, and Preoccupations. Forming in the late '70s, they took an avant-garde approach to punk and paved the way for noise, no wave, post-punk, math-rock, and drone bands that would emerge over the next three decades. While they paved the way for many bigger acts of the future, This Heat remained relatively unknown compared to their contemporaries in Wire and Gang of Four. The fact that they're still not on streaming services certainly adds to their obscurity. It wasn't until they were featured in Simon Reynold's excellent Rip It Up and Start Again and name dropped by James Murphy in his 2005 breakout track "Losing My Edge," that they really started to appear on the internet's radar (forever a record store clerk's favorite band), but their range of influence can be felt across the indie music spectrum. In 2015, their discography was reissued on vinyl, which gave the final push to the two surviving members of the original trio to resurrect the group, now under the name This Is Not This Heat, and begin playing shows. The band, now a sextet, is on a brief tour leading up to their appearance at Big Ears Festival, and made another appearance in New York. Taking the stage with striking grace, the band ripped through their brutal set full of industrial noise and dissonant drones. Attacking the stage with two drummers, multiple guitars, and multi-instrumentalists, the group released an all-out assault on the audience, embarking on journeys of extreme sounds that made it seem insane to think that this was a group that once opened for U2. On stage, the band barely spoke a word. Their focus was clear and sharply set on their tight-knit grooves that were locked firmly into place, showcasing their unconventional talents and reverb-soaked guitar drones that mixed blustery clarinet solos and marching drum beats. It was a marvel to witness. A group that has come together to reproduce the work of a band that was never known for their live shows, but rather their obscure recordings, and watch them engage in masterfully crafted sonic intricacies that call for expertise in improvisation, but also deep musical theories. Their discography is limited, the band only released two full-lengths and an EP before splitting in the early '80s, but the set was still impressive and full of chaos while never overwhelming. Their skills at finding that perfect level of brutality and brilliance is unmatched and it was a wonder to watch it all unfold.

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