dammit! i just wrote the first 3 grafs of my fantomas/melt banana/end review then accidentally closed my browser! i hate websites that resize your browser & get you all confused.... try #2
end started the show with a killer 1/2 hour laptop set of mod-inspired breakcore. big hard beats & breaks, with a strong flavor of '50s/'60s movie soundtracks. at one point drbmd commented that it sounded like end's samples were coming from pretty similar places, like bond films... coincidentally, at that moment end was playing a track named "bond"!
unfortunately, like i said to end after the show while buying a t-shirt, virtually nobody in the audience knew who he was. while he does have a brand new release on ipecac, his previous releases were on hymen records, a label that no record store in indianapolis carries (i could go on a rant about that, but won't). so while i was pretty familiar with end before going to this show, i suspect i was in a very small minority.
after end's set, whoever was running the cd player in between acts played the exact same cd that had been playing before end's set.
next up was the legendary melt banana, a 4-piece noisecore band from japan. out of the three acts, i was actually least interested in seeing melt banana simply because their sound is a little too close to punk/hardcore or grindcore (done really really well, of course) for my liking. that said, there is no denying their sheer power, energy, & talent. i'm not sure what the guitar player was doing, whether he had fx or what, because he was getting some pretty crazy tones. they hopped & leaped around the stage, banging out the noise & really drawing in the crowd. the audience didn't really know what to do when end was performing, but they were all over melt banana.
(interesting aside: during the melt banana set, enduser and a couple others from the sonic terror crew arrived at the show, & sat right next to us [in fact they sort of stole our seats!] enduser said he had come to see end, but arrived too late [in part screwed over by the new time difference between here & cincinnati])
last up: fantomas, the headliner, & deservedly so. fantomas is four very talented guys (known for their other bands), although mike patton is the clear ringleader: not only did patton do his trademark avant-garde vocals, he also had an electronics rig including a large synth/keyboard, a kaoss pad (looked like a kp2, which he apparently ran the vocals through), & other gear, & on top of all that he sometimes played the role of conductor, giving cues to the rest of the band.
if any "rock" band needs a conductor, it's fantomas. their material is extremely complex: one moment they'll be playing the most intense metal, then the next they'll be ambient, then they'll sound like a film soundtrack or cartoon music, then metal again. for those familiar with their recorded material, i can testify that these guys can really pull that material off in a live setting. i recognized most of what they played (even if i couldn't give song titles, or even necessarily tell what came off what album in some cases).
patton was fun to watch as he directed the band, playing synths & occasionally yanking a mic from its stand so he could spaz out & jump around. but dave lombardo (famous as the drummer for slayer) was something to watch as well. he had the most elaborate drum kit setup i'd ever seen, including a gong and an array of cymbals that were turned on their sides (vertically). during certain numbers he would use a bow to play the edges of those cymbals & produce eerie high-pitched tones. at another point he tapped the cymbals & start them spinning. i've seen some weird stuff but i had never seen cymbals played like that.
fantomas played two encores, which struck me as a little excessive. maybe i just don't get the point of the encore, but it seems to me that if you're going to play for an hour, you should just play for an hour, not fake like you're quitting halfway through (when it's exceedingly obvious that you're not; both times, when the band left the stage there was a monstrous noise playing the whole time, a pretty blatant clue that they would return in a moment... because of that, some people i spoke to didn't even realize that the first encore was in fact an encore). but both encores were very strong. for the second encore, they brought out the guitar player from melt banana to jam with them for a minute, in what looked like an improvisation, where patton would individually cue each player as he "sang" along, before bringing the whole band in for a raucous noise.
altogether a great show. it's rare that anything comes to the vogue that i'm remotely interested in seeing.... last time i was there was june 2001, so at this rate i'll be back at the vogue in february 2007.