Sunday, November 17, 8 p.m.
Rozz-Tox, 2108 Third Avenue, Rock Island IL
New York's noise-rock band Weeping Icon visits Rozz-Tox on November 17, sharing the bill with experimental no-wave crew Commodity A and Moline’s noise-pop weirdos Aging.
Formed with members of a number of Brooklyn-based 10s’ noise and rock projects, the fierce four-piece Weeping Icon has been making waves in its local scene for years, and just released the band's self-titled LP debut this fall. Weeping Icon screeches its way out of the speakers with a fried energy that evokes no-wave progenitors such as DNA as much as the guttural guitar stylings of, say, Melvins or the Amphetamine Reptile catalog. The front-and-center placement of the bleeding, clipped guitar riffs plant the band firmly in the rock sphere, but the presence of damaged electronics and additional noise elements, coupled with the bruising rhythm section, cast them a stone’s throw away from the traditional “Keep it simple stupid” paradigm. This music crackles with a sense of vague, justified vengeance, as if to give voice to the complexities of a shared inner monologue between long-time shredders.
The Weeping Icon LP achieves a dynamic narrative flow with its inclusion of shorter, texture-focused tracks between the four-to-five-minute heavy jammers. In these tracks, incidental recordings of voices meld together with jittering synth patches and overloading oscillators, as if to remind us that the band’s palette extends beyond the mosh pit and into the recesses of the mind’s eye. When they kick into gear with the brand of anthemic, attitude-drenched songwriting on display on such tracks as “Be Anti” and “Ankles,” it’s like they’re turning the spotlight from one emotion to another among a menu of contradictory yet somehow wholly concordant moods. Mirroring the ebb and flow of human emotional responses to a traumatic event, confusion and anger explode in pockets of activity, but subside into cooly calculated, muffled passages of near-acceptance. This diversity of tones and moods plays out perfectly on the album’s peak “Natural Selection,” which lopes along at a slower tempo that lets each contrasting voice swirl through the mix. A grinding bassline and steady drums sketch out a rhythm that serves as a springboard for the guitar and electronics to bounce off. The composite sounds like the more deliberate tracks on Converge’s Jane Doe mixed the textures and atmospheres of power electronics, all frosted with the confident, prophetic vocals of Kim Gordon in recent Body/Head performances.
By the time the squalling noise intro of Weeping Icon closer “Control” slouches into view, the band betrays no hint of relenting from their whiplashed workouts. As they the reduce their speed, they increase the raw physical real estate for the atmospheric elements to collide in, and the track’s six-minute running time gives them plenty of space in which to stretch out. The guitar takes a step back in the mix here, jutting into action with monstrous descending riffs and a quasi-solo of torrential double-time picking around the 2/3rd mark that splits the track wide open. This moment feels like the peak of the tension that Weeping Icon had brewed for the last half hour or so, as if to offer us one final cathartic moment to wash us clean.
Iowa's noise/no-wave ensemble Commodity A provides a welcome local counterpoint to Weeping Icon’s sound. The band’s four track EP S/T has no real solid ground to stand on in terms of recording fidelity or songwriting, but that’s only an advantage. Here, influences from punk to noise to industrial rock blend into a lovely mess of transgressions and conflicting ideas. Vocals hit with the bark of hardcore, or the cybernetic effect processing of Detroit electro. The metallic math rock of “107 River St.” sounds like This Heat’s “Horizontal Hold” or Laddio Bolocko’s “Nurser” compressed into a two-minute bleat that could definitely be five minutes longer. Elsewhere, “Displacement” detonates with bursts of scraped guitar noise rammed together with detached group vocals from the Devo playbook. The same goes for the fretboard-scrawling riff that starts off “WINZ,” a track that veers with the clicks of drumsticks into an almost d-beat hardcore stomp before culminating in vocal histrionics soaked in the same distortion as the guitars.
The Moline-based noise punks of Aging have a number of demos on Bandcamp that probably total fewer than 20 minutes, but this brevity only enhances the band’s charming rawness. Hearkening back to informally distributed punk demos of yore, the band’s digital releases sketch out a young guitar/bass/drums ensemble with clear chemistry and enough attitude to carry them through a proper album at some point. “Forever Untitled” shakes with barked punk vocal work and hard-edged guitar work that lands on the ladder rungs somewhere between basement hardcore and thrash metal. “Alvah Goldbook” skirts closer to the kind of heart-on-sleeve, theatrical punk experiments practiced by bands such as Fucked Up, complete with overlaid vocal takes and constant cymbal crashes.
Weeping Icon, Commodity A, and Aging play Rozz-Tox at 8 p.m. on November 17, admission is free, and more information is available by calling (309)200-0978 or visiting RozzTox.com.