Music News

Critic's Choice

Long before the Butthole Surfers discovered the aural-application possibilities of orange sunshine or windowpane, a San Francisco-based blotter veteran and guitar phenom named Helios Creed co-founded Chrome in 1977, with the late Damon Edge. After launching underground-style, Stooges-inspired music that was referred to at the time (and much maligned) as acid punk, Creed sought out similar sonic territory as a solo act -- blending boatloads of pedal effects and tape loops into an ominous mélange of industrial space rock and metallic sound. But was it astro or aggro? Fish or fowl? Overtly psychedelic or merely the soundtrack to your darkest dose?

Decide for yourself when the pioneering and chromosome-damaged oldster takes the stage Tuesday, September 2, at the 15th Street Tavern with Floor, Be/Non and Core of the Earth. Creed's return to the spotlight is not only a triumph for one of rock's most unheralded six-string innovators (an inspiration to Skinny Puppy, Prong, Ministry and Nine Inch Nails), but it celebrates the will of the human spirit over daunting medical realities: After sequestering himself in a trailer park near Manhattan, Kansas, Creed has been inoculating himself weekly with hepatitis C treatments for the past year. So far, so good. With his current backing lineup of bassist Roddy Hugunin and drummer Noel Harris, the post-hippie generation's answer to the Greek sun god can still summon Hendrix from feedback Valhalla. Sir Helios creates what he calls "multidimensional music rather than a flat picture," and his newest disc On the Dark Side of the Sun is an unblinking interstellar voyage through tidal waves, volcanic activity and redirected meteorites. It's one hair-raising thrill ride, by crikey -- especially coming from a guy who gave up his childhood dreams of being a train engineer to blow minds for a living.

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John La Briola