Upon returning home from tour about a year ago, some friends in a local band told me about a show they played with Michigan garage-punk-horror outfit the Piranhas. They talked about how the front man, this guy named Jamie, did all kinds of gnarly GG Allin-style stuff: puking, stripping, defecating, babbling incoherently, gesticulating wildlyyou get the idea. Always, upon repeating the story about Jamie's stage antics, these friends of mine would mention that after the set, he'd humbly told them of a real horror show, a true spectacle. Now keep in mind, this isn't a dude who spooks easily, but yet there he was, talking about a punk show so insidious as to be perverse, so scary it was sublime. Jamie had seen Wolf Eyes.
WOLF EYES CHROMATICS, CLIMAX GOLDEN TWINS, VERMILLION Crocodile Cafe, 206-441-5611 $7 9 p.m. Thurs., March 20
Like a lot of bands with no-wave leanings and lots of gadgets to fiddle with, Wolf Eyes reportedly eschew the stage and set up on the floor, where the "performance" gets lost in smoke-machine haze and the madness of high squeals, low atonal blurts, and tense words of terror. But even listening to this stuff as it was recorded is unsettling.
On the Ann Arbor collective's latest, Dread, beats emanate incongruently with urgency and a whirling hum. Founding members Aaron Dilloway and Nate Young angularly manipulate several homemade noise-making devices and the occasional drum kit, guitar, saxophone, and violin, creating the kind of complex, caustic soundscapes that you wouldn't want to listen to at home alone unless you were Iannis Xenakis, a tough-as-nails Krautrocker, or one of the members of Throbbing Gristle.
Released on countless cassette tapes, CD-Rs, and vinyl (either on the band's own Hanson label or on Bulb, the imprint that brought you Andrew WK), Wolf Eyes songs layer and build until they topple or implode. Sonic vibrations slide up and down like chain saws on swings sets. Children hide, small animals run for cover. The fuzz and feedback of a synthesizer imitates the cries of a kidnap victim kept in a damp cellar or locked in the bowels of a video game. Words are kept to a minimum, but when you hear, "I'm just an animal," over a heavy, circulating thump, you almost want to dance to it. Howls are made with inanimate objects, vocal chords are found on a bass with broken strings, and the songs are titled as if they were death-metal skronk junk"Desert of Glue" and "Wretched Hog," to name but a coupleand maybe, considering the lack of other employable terminology, that's exactly what they are.
My advice: Go, just don't go alone.