with The Black Furies and August Spies
By Simon McCormack
Thursday, Dec. 15; Launchpad (21-and-over), $7: Nor-Cal residents Hella play music that you can brawl to. The sound of shattering glass is all that's missing from the mêlée of turbulent noise that so unambiguously characterizes what Hella has produced. The mishmash of tight snare drum, with its unrelenting speed and intensity, and spastic guitar along with "Castlevania" keyboard occasionally thrown in will have you feeling like a mouse in a dark, trap-filled basement. One gets the impression from listening to Hella that the twosome has been bestowed with enough musical skill to put together a formidable, more traditional band. Hella aren't grade-school kids playing as loud as they can—they're virtuoso crybabies with an axe to grind and an untraditional way of grinding it. From listening to a Hella record, it seems unlikely that their highly randomized "improvisations" could be reproduced for their live shows but, in fact, this is exactly what occurs. With no more deviation than any standard ensemble, the group duplicates their tracks with uncanny attention to details (however unsystematically arrived at the details may be). Open-minded listeners are encouraged to attend as long as they are not prone to epileptic fits.
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Erika Wennerstrom • singer-