I missed the real drama at Neumo’s last night, arriving only in time to catch the last song and a half of Daughters’ problematic opening set. In an eerie repetition of Saturday night’s shenanigans, Daughters set was cut short when the band left the stage to protest the ejection of some crowd-surfing fans.* According to a friend, when crowd surfers were escorted out the side door, the Daughters’ frontman told the crowd not to worry, they’d get back in through another door. Security corrected him, saying that crowd-surfers wouldn’t be readmitted, and the band left the stage, saying, “If they’re out, we’re out.”
While the band was offstage, security shut down the main floor bars and removed the barrier that had been separating the all-ages section of the floor from the rest of the club (another friend tells me that kids were attempting to crowd-surf over. the barrier and into the bar section). The band eventually got back onstage and played two more songs to a now totally all-ages floor.
So things were a little tense as the Locust set up, already wearing their famous bug suits, to the tunes of Hall & Oates’ “private Eyes” (confidential to the two dudes clapping along in the crowd: I love you guys). Their stage setup includes a backdrop of art from their recent release, New Erections, drums pushed front and center, and a massive modular synthesizer array. At other Locust shows I’ve been to, there’s been an atmosphere of insider joking, with the crowd heckling the band and Justin Pearson scathing the hecklers one better, hardcore kids laughing at themselves and each other, but tonight things seemed almost dour. This was a serious Locust show.
Part of the punch-line of those old shows might’ve been the Locust’s ridiculously short (and ridiculously long-titled) songs being played in ridiculously short sets (an older fan joked that tonight’s $12 advance ticket price would run you about a dollar a minute for the headliners). But tonight, the Locust played for just short of 50 minutes, an epic marathon by their old standards.
Some of their recent work includes spacey, synth-heavy instrumental interludes, but their old formula of blast beats, screaming, and ritalin riffing still form the backbone of their set. So the Locust haven’t changed that much, and their music hasn’t really grown up with me.
The Locust have never aimed to make enjoyable music, per se. You don’t listen to them while cleaning your apartment or taking a long drive, you listen to them on blast with your bedroom door slammed to let your parents know how much they don’t get you. You go to their show and wear their shirt to let the other kids know how much you get it. I have to wonder what percentage of their audience actually enjoys them and what part just enjoys what liking the Locust says about them.
Chris Ott has written about the disappearing social functions of punk and indie rock more eloquently than I could, but I wonder if there’s not still a certain amount of self-creation and delineation (us vs them) going on when kids profess allegiance to music that’s just not enjoyable at face value. Now that anyone can download anything, and you don’t have to go the intimidating record store, it doesn’t mean anything to like that “indie” band that actually sounds pleasant (Arcade Fire, et al), but maybe it still means something to like one that sounds like a war zone. If listening to music no longer says who you are, maybe listening (or professing to listen) to noise still can.
*Apparently, Saturday night’s Man Man fiasco was a misunderstanding. The band wasn’t upset about crowd-surfers, but in fact pissed off because someone’s literal sister had been ejected from the backstage entry due to some miscommunication.