By Noah Hubbell
By Kiernan Maletsky
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Alex Distefano
By Darryl Smyers
By Jon Solomon
By Britt Chester
Thus far, videotape shot during the aftermath of the punk-rock-show-turned-riot at a Denver VFW hall on May 18 (Feedback, May 23) hasn't caused the stir many attendees were hoping, in part because of its highly variable quality. Dave Paco, bassist for the band Four, says much of the footage he took was out of focus because "I was trying to figure out what was going on. It was pretty hard to pay attention to that with all the Mace and stuff." Still, Paco notes, clips showed "a pretty big-sized officer shoving a smaller girl across the room and then twisting her arm around her back and handcuffing her extra violently. And you could also see four or five cops roughing a kid up on the ground and another officer dragging someone around by the handcuffs." Some of these images popped up on local newscasts last week, but Paco feels the reports "turned the whole thing around on the kids--like it was their fault." Four's George Fraska is more complimentary about Erin Hart, a talk-show host on KTLK-AM/760 who played audio excerpts from the videotapes and "showed both sides equally." But Hart's evenhandedness was undercut by KTLK's George Weber, who used the sound bites to beat up on the ticket-buyers a second time. "He made everything worse for everybody," Fraska says. "I think he's the least intelligent guy I've ever heard."
Neither Paco nor Fraska intend to allow Weber to have the last word on the subject. They've spent much of their time since the altercation passing out police-complaint forms to people who were at the concert. And Paco attended a May 23 meeting of Denver's Safety Review Commission to underline his complaints to city officials. (At that assembly, the commission appointed a task force to analyze current police procedures as they apply to crowd control.) "I think they actually did listen to us," Paco concedes. "Although I'm not sure if they're going to do anything about it."
Would you listen to local CDs in a boat? Would you listen with a goat?
Sackcloth 'n' Ashes, 16 Horsepower's debut for A&M Records, has received across-the-board praise, and far be it from me to contradict the trend. The album, produced by Warren Bruleigh, is dark and ominous, evoking a backwoods feel that's utterly compelling. David Eugene Edwards's lyrics call to mind a Civil War-era abolitionist railing against the sins of the common man, while the spare music made by Edwards, Jean-Yves Tola and Keven Soll draws from American music of generations past without seeming anything less than contemporary. "Black Soul Choir," "Scrawled in Sap" and the rest are not novelties. Rather, they are the sound of three musicians baying at the moon, cursing the heavens and praying for redemption. Pop albums aren't usually so ambitious, and even those that are seldom achieve their goals. This one does (available in area record stores). Paul Dresher's Casa Vecchia, among the most recent releases on Boulder's forward-looking Starkland label, is similarly intriguing, albeit in a completely different way. The Los Angeles-born Dresher is generally lumped in with composers dubbed post-minimalist, in part because his experiments with electronic instrumentation and tape loops are extremely deliberate; there are melodies on hand, but they take their time showing themselves. Nonetheless, the soundscapes he constructs are powerful indeed. Particularly memorable is the title track, a fascinating construct (originally commissioned by the Kronos Quartet) that tugs and pulls at you for a full 22 minutes without ever seeming self-indulgent. Casa Vecchia provides maximal listening pleasure (Starkland, P.O. Box 2190, Boulder 80306).
The latest from Concentrated Evil, Run for Your Lives, finds the three-piece exploring that well-plowed punk-funk field. At times the players come across like a homegrown Rage Against the Machine: "The Hated," "DPP" and "Monkey" are thinly recorded preaching-to-the-choir screeds. More enjoyable are a handful of simple goofs, including "I Don't Live Here" and, especially, "RRR RR RRRR," a rant against, of all things, dog feces ("Evil loaf!/Evil loaf!/Leaving your shit for me to clean up"). Dogs of the world, unite. You've got nothing to lose but your pooper-scoopers (695-6013). Scramblehead's Valley of the Bugs brings you the wit and wisdom of Charles Manson; the cult figure/convicted killer provides the words, while six Denverites make music to accompany it. You're meant to be shocked, and maybe you will be. But more likely you'll be amused by this elaborate, beautifully designed attempt to get a rise out of the literal and figurative blue-hairs of the world. As for the tunes themselves, some of them are actually pretty good: I especially liked the contrast between Ang's megaphoned lead vocal and the chirpy female background singing on "Let Em Go" and the sing-songy "Git On Home." And Scramblehead's "Look at Your Game Girl" is considerably more interesting than the take by Guns N' Roses (Scorpion Inc., Box 481823, Denver 80248).
The appropriateness of segueing from Charles Manson to Boyd Rice will not be lost on those familiar with the local musician/ provocateur, known globally for the delight he takes in toying with Satanism, Nazism, white power and other things John Q. Public considers bad. Of Rice's two new CD projects, the most focused is Might, released by Mute Records under the name Non. The manifesto consists of twelve doomy backing tracks over which Rice solemnly intones excerpts from Ragnar Redbeard's Might Is Right, described in the liner notes as "a work considered by many to be the definitive exposition of Darwinian law as it applies to man, his world and his nature." In spite of the intellectually suspect nature of these words, however, you've got to give Rice his due: The juxtaposition of the noise opus "Force" with "Deletion," which is built upon gentle chimes and a woman's screams, is genuinely creepy and repugnant. If that sounds like your cup of tea, belly up to the bar--or consult the nearest psychiatrist. Hatesville, a spoken-word compilation overseen by Rice and also featuring Adam Parfrey, Shaun Partridge and Jim Goad, is more discreet than the Non piece, but it's just as disturbing. Goad's "Let's Hear It for Violence Toward Women" may be the snippet most immediately capable of raising the average listener's ire, but Partridge's "Dog" (in which he describes laughing at a woman being torn apart by a cur) and Rice's "Mr. Intolerance," delivered in a calm voice that contradicts the extraordinary bitterness of its theme, are just as nasty. You can reassure yourself with the assumption that the artists are merely portraying characters who hold such vile thoughts, but you should do so at the risk of being completely wrong. Some albums are on the edge; Hatesville is the edge (available in area record stores).