By Thomas Johnson, June 23 2018 —
If you haven’t been, the National Music Centre is designed like a Bond villain’s fever dream. From the main entrance, the walls branch out and wrap around the performance hall, which is perched in the middle of the great lobby. Friday’s Grouper show was a perfect marriage of artist and venue. Liz Harris was mesmerizing with her ghostly music given the room to rebound around the hall’s twists and turns. You could feel the floor tremble when the low-end would mount up and ripples from her guitar or one of the many doodads on the table before her would wash over you and crash like a wave. For a largely frenetic festival, it was a moment of sedative calm.
The Legion filled to its brim for Deerhoof, the 2018 guest curators. The stately art-rockers provided ample examples of the gritty, searing rock which they used to help endow the weekend. Sunny guitar lines alongside vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki’s shrill voice would give way to gritty metal at a moments notice, and flourishes and switch-ups extended into surgically precise breakdowns. They rocked very fucking hard.
In the basement of the Palomino, Rhode Island duo The Body were a shot of energy like a cinder block to the head. Crammed between the bar and the indistinct stage, a violent mosh pit churned and heaved in a mess of flying limbs and saliva. The relentless dissonance and sheer amount of noise swallowed the light and made the air seem heavy.
Piling out of the Palomino pressure cooker, the moshers looked pulverized and bruised. A few grabbed pints at the bar, but most shuffled off to find somewhere flat to lay their hat. Three days in, that’s pretty par for the course.