Concert Reviews

Last Night: Autokinoton, Yakuza and Jesu @ The Marquis Theater

Autokinoton, Yakuza, Jesu October 31, 2007 Marquis Theater

Soaking in a few hours of heavy music played at ear-splitting volume seemed an ideal way to spend Halloween this year. This all-ages show comprised three very different bands with three very different aural skull-crushing techniques. Though most of the crowd was not in costume, there were a few noteworthy masqueraders – an eye-popping naughty nurse, a faithfully rendered Wheaties box, and a priest in Kiss makeup. The stars, however, were definitely the bands.

When I first began seeing Autokinoton around town, there was no telling what you’d get from show to show. The band was wildly inconsistent. Lately, however, this brawny instrumental trio has wowed me with every performance. Last night, the three men who make up Autokinoton pulled out all the stops. In the current incarnation of the band, drummer Andrew Segreti is really the frontman. In a setup with no vocalist, Segreti is both the visual and audio focal point on stage. His skinswork is frenetic, kinetic and precise. With a truly musical approach to the drums, Segreti drives the sound, while guitarist Justin Slojkowski and bassist Josh Everingham create a richly textured sonic platform for the drummer’s mesmerizing, pulverizing performance. Autokinoton’s complex compositions and aggressive playing hooked the crowd, many of whom had probably never heard the band before.

Though Yakuza might sound at first like a garden-variety thrash and death metal merchant, the quartet is really an experimental rock outfit disguised as a metal band. The first clues to this as the Chicago-based band took the stage were the saxophones. Frontman Bruce Lamont alternately screamed, crooned and skronked his horns – processed through various effects – while the rest of the gang pounded away at some punishing riffs and wove their way through some of the more intricate and quiet moments. At one point during the group’s set, Lamont muttered something barely audible about “Halloween magic.” He then began convulsing and spitting up fake blood before leaping off the stage to scream and squirm right in the crowd’s faces. By the time Yakuza finished its long set, the outfit’s manic energy and quirky style had the audience grinning, thrashing and aching.

The greatly anticipated Jesu closed out the set on a rather disappointing note. Leader Justin Broadrick comes with an extensive résumé and impressive pedigree, having played with Napalm Death as a teenager and formed the pioneering industrial metal act, Godflesh, shortly thereafter. He has also worked in a production and remixing capacity with Pigface, Isis, Pelican, Agoraphobic Nosebleed and more. Throughout his career, Broadrick’s music has ignored boundaries and blazed trails. Jesu is perhaps the musician’s most melodic and accessible project to-date. If Spacemen 3 had been a Norwegian black metal band, they might have sounded something like Jesu – an artful combination of head-banging and shoe-gazing.

Unfortunately, the live realization of Jesu’s impressive recordings was rather flat. Broadrick and company executed their parts flawlessly, but failed to perform. The musicians hardly moved and acknowledged the audience only minimally. As a result, the set came off as dull and the music seemed to have far less soul than it does on the band’s records. A seasoned performer like Broadrick surely knows how to engage an audience, but he and his bandmates chose not to. Consequently, the music suffered. –- Eryc Eyl Photos by Doug Beam

Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: The high school band geek in me is a sucker for any kind of brass or woodwind instrument in a rock context. Random Detail: This is the first show I’ve been to at the Marquis where the bar section wasn’t separated from the main floor by steel barricades. It was nice to be able to enjoy the show without feeling like corralled cattle. By the Way: Before Autokinoton heads offs on a 3-week eastern tour with Battlefields, the band will be opening for Swedish psychedelic doom geniuses Witchcraft – at 3 Kings Tavern on November 18.

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Sean Cronin