A few minutes after I clothes-lined my friend to stop him from stepping on an array of Happy-Meal toys, coffee cans, maracas and other unidentifiable noisemakers littering the back of Garfield Artworks, he asked me if I happened to know how many decibels constituted a lethal sound (it's 150), and, did I think Black Dice would take us there?
I'd imagine we got dangerously close last Friday night -- but at a Black Dice show, what doesn't kill you only warps you to another dimension where glitchy feedback rattles your organs and a montage of neon spaghetti footage ever-flickers on the horizon. In other words, the box of earplugs on the merch table was not a joke.
But first in the night's lineup was the far-less abrasive Dean Cercone -- an ambidextrous multi-instrumentalist, with a real Panda-Bear jones. He's got a knack for highly hypnotic loops and a voice that combines ethereal lilt and naked emotion. The trinkets we encountered on arriving proved to be the property of Burnout Warcry, up next. I'm not sure if what the duo made can be called music, but it was fun to watch them manipulate the plastic clappy-hands and rain sticks nonetheless. I can't think of a more energizing appetizer to the Black Dice feast than garage-rocking Awesome Color. Drummer Allison Busch (yeah -- a chick!) gave her drum set a manic beat-down, and vocalist Derek Stanton gave his Jesus-cut as much of a workout as he did his guitar.
The Black Dice set was a single, ever-morphing haze of fry-your-skin static and split-your-ribcage bass, punctuated here and there with vocal hiccups and sirens akin to echolocation signals. "Nite Cream" and "Kokomo" were highlights; I stood in the Black Dice splash zone (front row), where the temperature rose about five degrees with every song, so that by the end of the night if you weren't soaked with your own perspiration you were drenched in Bjorn Copeland's.
The elephantine chug of "Lazy TV" did actually kill a few people -- myself included. But once we came back to life at show's end, we were stronger for having visited such a twisted and incendiary afterlife.