Last Night Freedom Ritual
posted by May 5 at 14:33 PMon
Dark Meat @ the Comet
I’m still not entirely sure what happened last night. I know that Dark Meat made it to the Comet after apparently getting snowed-in in Denver then driving 30 straight hours in their bus. I know that they all managed to fit inside the Comet along with the sizable Sunday night crowd. I know there were more than a dozen but less than 20 people representing the band—two drummers, several horn players, guitarists, a violinist, an organist, a backup vocalist, the guy mostly responsible for spraying confetti with a leaf blower and occasionally summoning pitchy squeals from an optical theremin. I know they do in fact sometimes lose a person; before they started their set, their singer, Jim McHugh, called out into the crowd, “Molly? Molly? We lost a member.” I know the Comet’s sound guy was perhaps in a little over his head—McHugh again: “More flute in the monitors! When was the last time you heard that, motherfucker?”—though he kept up admirably.
I know that nothing gives your hippie psych rock ensemble (whose horn rave ups veer dangerously towards ska) some much needed punk cred like the saxophonist wearing a Locust t-shirt. I know that the crowd was the most lively I’ve seen at a small bar show in a long while, dancing, slamming into each other, crowd surfing—I haven’t had my feet inadvertently stomped on by fellow revelers that much since I was a teenager, and it felt good. Towards the end of the set, the line between band and audience blurred out of existence—McHugh handed off his guitar to some random guy in the front row, who gamely played some one note riffs while the singer crowd surfed; band members danced through the audience with drums and the violinist repeatedly lunged into the crowd backwards, still shredding strings; you started to suspect that some of the more involved audience members may have been Dark Meat plants the whole time. It was not, as people too often describe reckless concerts, controlled chaos; it was just plain chaos, and it was glorious. (They’ve been touring with Israeli pyro-trash punks Monotonix, so it only makes sense that they’d have their live game stepped up to match.)
What I don’t know is if I’d ever really want to listen to Dark Meat’s debut album, Universal Indians, on my home stereo system, apart from all the festive freedom ritual ruckus. It’s not a bad record—its mix of psyched-out, trainwrecking rock’n’roll, woozy brass band excess, primal rhythmic pulse, and deranged howling is plenty powerful, but it just feels kind of flat without all the sweat and confetti.
all photos by Kelly O