November 15, 2004 - Chop Suey - Seattle, WA
|review by Brian Connolly|
|Wolf Eyes isn't the kind of band you normally see headlining a venue like Chop Suey. They're usually opening for a more popular band or headlining small clubs. All of that seems to change when you sign to a major independent label and PitchforkMedia.com gives your latest album an 8 out of 10.
Following a psychedelic performance by old-time rockers Smegma, a more than unsettling ten minutes of solo artist Rubber-O-Cement, and an impressive set by labelmates Comets On Fire, Wolf Eyes took the stage.
Each time I've seen these guys play, they've never performed for more than twenty-five minutes. When they opened for Sonic Youth this summer I don't think the crowd would have stood for anything more than a half hour of this music that can sometimes make you want to die. For this show, however, those in attendance had paid ten dollars to see this band specifically and were not about to be cheated out of that ten-spot with a mere twenty minutes of noise. Wolf Eyes knew this and performed their signature style of ear puncturing sounds.
Lead singer Nate Young picked up the microphone and greeted the crowd in a tone that can only be described as "slow motion." He stated that he was going to talk very slowly and the other two members, John Olsen (noise) and Aaron Dilloway (guitar, beat programming), followed suit. The three greeted Seattle in harmony by saying "Welcome to the shark pit." I really don't know what that means but that's what they said. Welcome to the shark pit indeed.
Typical of their set, they opened with a small bit of improvised noise. John Olsen blew into what looked to be a long piece of flexible metal while Aaron Dilloway programmed various electronic samples. Since they were to play twice their usual set length, this went on for over ten minutes. As the crowd became restless in wait for the fist-pumping bass to kick in, Nate Young slumped over the microphone and hung there.
And then there was screaming.
Nate Young's style of singing uses two microphones. I'm not exactly sure how it works, but I believe one of them runs straight to the PA and the other runs through a few different distortion pedals before it gets to the PA. He holds them the way a harmonica player would if he were playing a microphone. He howls indistiguishable words while the drum machine pounds away.
And this is what Wolf Eyes' music is comprised of. John Olsen bangs on various gongs and sheets of metal. Aaron Dilloway slams away on a distorted guitar. Nate Young commits suicide into the microphone. And the drums drive the entire thing. Write it off as worthless noise or unimaginative tripe, but there is a reason these three are so popular. There is a reason Chop Suey was packed with people waiting to hear this noise. It's well orchestrated and deliberate enough for people to enjoy.