Bleeding Rainbow sounded like the reincarnation of Sonic Youth last night at The Waiting Room. The whole first half of the set was dominated with full-on drone action, with vocals playing little or no role in the melee. Even when Sarah Everton or Rob Garcia were singing, you could barely hear their incomprehensible syllabic cooing over the roar of the guitar. This is indeed a guitar band, with Greg Frantz being the center point of attention on every song, bending and almost breaking every note, making what could be run-of-the-mill rhythm-drone music much more interesting.
About halfway through the set, during a particularly drony number, Everton started fiddling with her guitar, eventually unstrapping it and then dropping it intentionally on the ground, snapping off the headstock, after which she tossed the broken ax off the stage to the floor below — real rock star stuff. I haven’t seen anyone break a guitar on stage in five years. “It’s just a Squire, it doesn’t matter,” she said between songs.
The carnage seemed to mark a breaking point in their set as well, as they band shifted into more tuneful, more melodic territory with Everton and Garcia singing pretty harmonies over the riffage. It didn’t take long for them to devolve back to drone, and by the end of the set Garcia was twisting his guitar, eventually flipping it to the ground to land smack dab on its headstock with a crack. I don’t know if he broke it or not, but it didn’t sound good.
The band seemed much more fractured than when they played at Slowdown Jr. last March. With a new album coming out in January (delayed by their label, it was supposed to come out this month) Bleeding Rainbow feels like a band in transition, still figuring out what they want to sound like. I can’t to see where they end up.
Shortly after ending their set, the fog machines began to kick in high gear for A Place to Bury Strangers. By the time the trio took the stage, The Waiting Room was smoldering in dense, choking smoke. Six projectors cut through the fog along with frontman Oliver Ackermann’s shimmering, chiming, staccato guitar, while bassist Dion Lunadon and drummer Robi Gonzalez provided a throbbing, pulsing bedrock. Lost in the darkness there was something distinctly gothic about the whole thing, even though their sound felt industrial, broken to shards by sound and light. For whatever reason, I was reminded me of Love and Rockets and (dare I say it) the most hard-edged, aggressive moments from The Clash. Ultimately cool. Standing next to the stage like sitting at the foot of an airport runway watching jets fly overhead.
So what would Ackermann do to close out the show? His theatrics are legendary. Talk to a APTBS show veteran and he’ll tell you about the time Ackermann tore the strings off his guitar or smashed an amp down on his axe. For this show, Ackermann grabbed one of the hot-white strobe lights from in front of the stage and dragged it across the strings of his guitar, causing ripples of noise that fed back through the amps, eventually breaking the light and finishing off the set in the dark. Fantastic.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.