Team of experimental punks performers for a show at the Great American Music Hall – CBS San Francisco


SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A notorious noise-punk pioneer and writer returns to the Bay Area with her latest musical project when Lydia Lunch Retrovirus joins acclaimed local avant-rock band Oxbow and explosive punk power trio Victims Family at the Great American Music Salle on Saturday night.

One of the oldest experimental rock outfits in the Bay Area, Oxbow rose from the cleaning rooms in the early ’90s with its roaring, abrasive music and the unsettling, at times confrontational stage performance of singer Eugene Robinson to become an acclaimed mainstay of San Francisco’s marginal music scene.

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Robinson first collaborated with Oxbow guitarist and lead musical arranger Niko Wenner when he joined the singer’s rock-meet-hardcore art group, Whipping Boy, in time to contribute to the band’s latest full album. The third secret of Fatima in 1985. Oxbow, much less conventional, began strictly as a recording project at the end of the decade. Former Whipping Boy drummer Dan Adams switched to bass for the band while the drumming duties were shared by Greg Davis and Tom Dobrov (Davis took over full time in 1993 after Dobrov left) .

Formed around the concept of musical freedom without commercial aspirations, Oxbow mixed elements of noise rock that echoed Nick Cave’s debut band The Birthday Party and sound extremists New York Swans, as well as such diverse inspirations. than blues (in Wenner’s howling and bombarding bottleneck solos), dissonant modern classic, punk and metal. The cacophonous musical bed was matched only by Robinson’s lamenting and unleashed delivery of multitrack vocals that sound like avant-garde singer Diamanda Galas channeling the good Reverend Al Green.

The band’s dense and uplifting debut albums found a core of fans drawn to music extremism, including famed Big Black / Shellac sound engineer and guitarist Steve Albini who would help keep up with the even more ambitious efforts of Oxbow, the years 1995 Let me be a woman and the kinematics of 1997 Serenade in red. The latter album featured a guest spot by British singer Marianne Faithful on a heart-wrenching cover of “Insane Asylum” by Willie Dixon.

In the first decade of the new millennium, Oxbow released only two suitable studio albums – Evil heat in 2002 on Neurot Records and the conceptual opus The history of narcotics on Hydra Head – but the group also branched out into cinema with the release of the tour documentary Music for adults. The film followed a 2002 Oxbow tour across Europe and some of Robinson’s more physical confrontations with viewers who decided to test his reputation as a brawler (the MMA-trained singer would post an acclaimed account of his exploration combat, Combat: Everything you always wanted to know about A ** kicks but worried you would get kicked A ** kicks for asking, in 2007).

The group would spend most of a decade working on their long-awaited recording. The thin black duke, but Oxbow has also looked into a variety of setups, performing as an acoustic quartet as well as a stripped-down duo of Wenner and Robinson. The duo also toured Europe and performed in Birmingham, the 2012 Supersonic Festival in England, supported by a full chamber ensemble presented as the Oxbow Orchestra. Although longtime label Hydra Head has gone out of business, the imprint is said to break its dormancy to emerge. Fine black Duke in 2017. Completing their sound with meticulously arranged horns and strings that give Robinson’s menacing vocal ruminations and the band’s ominous tunes wide cinematic scope, The Think Black Duke has been hailed by many as the quartet’s greatest achievement to date.

The dense, dark journey of an album made many top lists and asserted Oxbow’s place at the forefront of modern experimental rock. The group will tour Europe extensively after its release, making numerous festival appearances, including a famous live collaboration with German free-jazz saxophone legend Peter Brötzmann at the Moers Festival in 2018.

The band performed a special acoustic performance at the Lab in May 2016, a year before the album’s release, but this show at the Great American Music Hall is only the second time Oxbow has performed live in San Francisco since the Release The thin black duke. As the group worked on new material for their next effort, Robinson recently found itself in the limelight due to its scathing criticism of the now disgraced and under investigation Silicon Valley media company, Ozy. Media, where he worked for years as an editor and regular. donor. It has also expanded its business with its own online subscription newsletter, Look what you made me do featuring writings that detail his controversial stint with the company as well as other culture essays and his own recent contact with death over near-fatal gastrointestinal issues.

Writer and provocative punk Lydia Lunch occupies an artistic space as large as Robinson. As the guitarist and singer of the pioneering New York noise / no wave group Teenage Jesus and the Jerks – a group she started with James Chance, who would later form the Contorsions and James White and the Blacks – lunch was at the epicenter of the city’s underground experimentation. music scene in the late 1970s. It would also become the frequent subject of no-wave documentaries and avant-garde filmmakers Vivienne Dick and Scott B and Beth B.

Lunch would then release a series of solo recordings, collaborating with Nick Cave and the Birthday Party, LA-based punk band The Weirdos, Swans guitarist Michael Gira and members of Sonic Youth, as well as establishing themselves in as a writer, poet and prominent figure in the New York oral and performance landscape.

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While Lunch has focused more on speaking and writing, she revengefully returned to music over the past decade when she began leading her all-star Lydia Lunch Retrovirus aggregation. With powerful drummer Bob Bert (Pussy Galore, Chrome Cranks Sonic Youth), bassist Tim Dahl of Experimental Noise NYC and free jazz / noise guitarist Weasel Walter (The Flying Luttenbachers, Burmese, Cellular Chaos), the band at Clue d ‘ High octane has toured on both sides of the Atlantic and released several live recordings.

The lunch was also the subject of the new documentary film Lydia Lunch: The war is never over which was released earlier this year directed by Beth B. She traveled to San Francisco last August to participate in a screening of the film at the Roxy Theater as well as an oral engagement at the Make-Out Room with Robinson and the Bay Area author Bob Calhoun.

The show’s opening will be veteran power punk-rock trio Victims Family. With a partnership stretching back over three decades, guitarist / vocalist Ralph Spight and bassist Larry Boothroyd have made a particularly hectic jazz-punk noise as the core of the Victims Family since the group formed in 1984 when they were not. than a skinny Santa Rosa couple. teenagers.

The victims’ families at VF’s 30th anniversary concert in Petaluma on 9/27/14 (Photo: Chiara Corsaro)

Bringing together the lyrical venom of the Dead Kennedys and the eclectic punk virtuosity of The Minutemen and NoMeansNo, Victims Family created a fierce stew of hardcore, jazz, metal, funk and math rock with original drummer Devon VrMeer. Embracing the DIY punk philosophy of the time, the young trio booked their first nationwide tour in 1985, honing their skills while sharing the stage with bands such as NOFX, Tales of Terror, the aforementioned DKs and Social Unrest.

The band releases their first album Tension and violets on Mordam Records the following year, triggering Spight’s vitriolic social commentary on salvos like “Homophobia” and “God, Jerry, & The PMRC”, in addition to writing possibly the only instrumental tribute to jazz guitarist George Benson never performed by a punk group. Victim monitoring effort Things i hate to admit further refined the band’s sound with more ear-friendly barbed wire hooks on future fan favorites such as “World War IX” and “Corona Belly”.

VrMeer’s departure to start a family led to his short-term replacement by Eric Strand before roadie Tim Solyan stepped in and completed what many see as the group’s classic lineup. Victims Family created what remains one of the most notable punk albums of the decade with the 1990s White Bread Blues while bolstering their reputation as a dazzling live artist with multiple tours in the US and Europe, sharing the stage with Nirvana and Primus while having future stars Mr. Bungle and Green Day opening act.

The line-up released a second album, Germ, in 1992. It was the band’s first effort for Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label, but the difficulty of the road eventually led to a two-year hiatus. One reunion would produce another solid studio effort (Headache remedy) and a live album that captured the volatile onstage chemistry of Victims before Spight and Boothroyd moved on to band projects Flea Collar from Saturn (with the bassist switching to drums) and Hellworms (another trio that included drummer Bluchunks / Walrus Joaquin Spengemann).

Victims Family released one more album with another drummer – apocalyptic in 2001 with My Name drummer David Gleza behind the kit – before the principles shifted to exploring other creative outlets. Spight would lead his own group The Freak Accident in addition to anchoring Biafra’s new band, The Guantanamo School of Medicine, on guitar, while Boothroyd would tour and record extensively with the famous experimental band Triclops !, though he was ultimately brought to play bass with La Bande du Biafra.

Yet the semi-regular family reunions of the victims that bring Solyan back into the fold often find fans traveling long distances to attend another brutal concert. The trio embarked on a brief series of dates in 2019, playing three dates in the Bay Area, followed by three more in the Pacific Northwest with Portland, OR-based punk band Nasalrod. While the group is yet to release what would be their first new album in two decades since the 7-inch single “Have a Nice Day” released in 2012, fans are still sure to rally in numbers when they come. will perform this rare live show.

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Lydia Lunch Retrovirus with Oxbow and the victims’ family
Saturday, November 27, 8 p.m. $ 25
Large American Music Hall


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