2011 top ten list
by Jacob Berendes, managing editor of Mothers News mothersnews.net

2011 i didn’t really listen to a lot of new records. i listened to a lot of recorded music that was new to me, but really set adrift in time as far as year of creation goes. that said, i did listen to a lot
of live music, thanks in large part to tons of great shows at the Olneyville Obscure Entertainment District, a complex of studios / underground venues in the Earnscliffe Woolen-Paragon Worsted Company Mill Complex. Spaces in this complex included Soft Approach, City Effect, Witch Club, Paragon, Castlevania, and Building 16. These spaces were all evicted a month ago so the building could be transformed into housing, but it was a good run, on to the next thing!

in no order, some favorite sets were:

KITES / NOISE NOMADS at the second day of In Limbo noise fest, Olneyville RI Noise Nomads set was low loud sounds, smashing things, and crowd ampededness. Kites was a wonderful return to form- aggression, mania, very “jungle cat ate the wrong berries”. NN played at 3am, ok, 3am. and the venue was behind an unmarked door on the third floor of a dimly lit factory building down two alleys. extreme cult behavior
NOTWITHSTANDING, somehow there was this small crew of authentic post-bar non-noisers that showed up at 2:30, thought they were at some after hours party or something, and during the NN set kept yelling “WHAT IS HAPPENING?” and “WHERE ARE THE ROCKSTARS?” and chanting “VOCALS! VOCALS! VOCALS!”. After the Kites set they said “DON’T YOU HAVE A GIRLFRIEND OR SOMEONE TO TALK TO?”. i could not believe it. on the tender side of things, during a quiet part of the NN set, someone in the crowd with more of a stake in things, with some sense of history and trajectory, said: “IT JUST HAPPENED… IT JUST HAPPENED, JUST NOW… WE ARE BEYOND BEAULIEU”. very moving…

WORK/DEATH every show
Such a joy to see this project wherever. each show was a really great experience. it’s tempting to dismiss noise as the emperor’s new clothes- even to the casual showgoer, WORK/DEATH stands as a clear rebuttal of this. Scott’s attention to structure and composition, his emotional drive, his dynamics, and his unified approach to live shows / tape releases / flyer design, his slow and strong “still waters run deep” power, all make him one to watch, in any setting, at any time.

ANGST HASE PFEFFER NASE at Analog Underground
afternoon set, doors open, guitar on the ground, mustache tendrils in the air. incredible musician, always dresses nice. HORA FLORA and REBER/MORI also played gorgeous sets.

BEEMAN GLOW at RK projects space inbetween whole foods and the cemetery
this whole show was pretty killer, but Beeman Glow was the highlight for me- somehow merging 12 tone, fire music, and contemporary midilust into a set that was almost like a megamix music lesson. killer!!!!!

BILL NACE at Operatheque
was this this last year or just on the cusp of last last year? who cares this set ruled! sitting down and shredding an electric guitar is a tough style to get over- you kind of want a guitarist to be a pacing animal or looming spectre, not a dude in a chair. Pig Champion (RIP) and Nace are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head that make it work– both sit down, shred, and have root-energy; reaching out while remaining planted. Bill Nace for President of the electric guitar!

SPIRITUAL RECESS, set with the shopvac and the tape players, at paragon
have you seen this guy? he dances at EVERY show, even if there’s no one else dancing AT ALL. he HAS TO DANCE! how to have a great band: have great energy, be honest and open and loving. KEEP ON CHOOGLIN!!!!!!!!

KUMO NO KUMO at Operatheque
extremely quiet acoustic noise set! i was afraid to shift my weight lest a floorboard squeak. still had fist pumping parts, soaring parts, epic parts, melancholy parts. piano, violin, guitar. bring it to the table.

TATERBUG at Paragon
ahhhhhhh did you ever see a dude so wasted they turn into a little cavorting pixie, flitting about from flower to flower in the ample afternoon and tra la la-ing on warm waves and honeysuckle smells, their ion propulsion drive kicked hard into AMBLE CARELESSLY? i have.

GROKE at Soft Approach
perfect 2 person band featuring employees of Mothers News (and not me). Katrina recently gave back their borrowed synthesizer and bought a bass, the bass that was first played in DROPDEAD. there’s a lot of stickers on it, including “powered by Linux”. identify with that! #punk #politics #software

ASUNA at carpenter st
bong, perfect set.

THE BODY, anywhere at any time
bong, perfect band.

hahahaha seriously! if you like punk or hardcore or electronic or classical or whatever, it’s possible and reasonable to only see good shows. but if you like noise, and you don’t actively go to shows that
you’re pretty sure are going to be bad, and sometime end up hellish, you do not actually like noise. sometimes a show will be bad and will give you a lot to think about, sometimes a show will be so bad that everyone looks around like “am i alive?” and later everyone has that “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra” relationship. sometimes a show will suck so hard then turn an imperceptible corner into immense sunshine and radiant depth. do not overlook this rich and rewarding experience, this song of songs. bands- if you’re playing too good all the time, fuck it up.

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