Show Spotlight: black midi @ U Street Music Hall, 11/13/19

With so much coming through DC on a regular basis, how will you ever decide what to go see? Let Fuzzy Logic help.

Today, Ben spotlight's tomorrow night's black midi show at the U Street Music Hall.

Wall of sound: black midi hits DC this week, punches you right between the eyes.

Here’s something I did not know, courtesy of Wikipedia: “Black MIDI is a music genre consisting of compositions that use MIDI files to create a song remix containing a large number of notes, typically in the thousands, millions, billions, or even trillions...there are so many notes in each piece that the score would look nearly black on traditional sheet music.”

Perhaps this is common knowledge, but I had no idea.

I do know that black midi, a noisy, heavy four-piece from the London suburbs that came out of nowhere in 2018 and inexplicably ended up on WGN-TV’s morning show in Chicago last week, is coming to Washington, DC. The band will play an all-ages show with Fat Tony on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at U Street Music Hall (1115A U Street NW).

“Everyone in black midi looks approximately 8 years old and their drummer is an absolute legend,” wrote Pitchfork’s Jeremy D. Larson in his 8.2 review of Schlagenheim, the group’s first full-length record, released in June. He is correct on both accounts.

“(Schlagenheim) views songwriting as a matter of riffs, dynamics and noise rather than verses, choruses and tunes, and inhabits a space where prog rock at its most blaring meets a lot of stuff appended by the prefix ‘post,’” adds The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis. “Based on that description alone, you may well be able to decide whether you’re going to find Schlagenheim a thrilling détournement of tired rock orthodoxy or the kind of thing that you’d prefer to get as far away from as possible.” This is also extremely accurate.

Even if heavy-metal-jazz-fusion-manic-improvisation isn’t your thing, a black midi show is still worth circling on one’s social calendar. black midi is an absolute monster live.

The band’s January performance in an Icelandic hostel, recorded as a KEXP video and released on YouTube, was the quartet’s first real introduction to a larger, international audience. It served as a showcase for the aggressive, anarchistic style, reminiscent of acts like Death Grips or Lightning Bolt, that black midi brings to the studio and the stage.

Earlier this month, black midi released a new single, “7-eleven,” amidst a globe-trotting touring schedule that began in earnest in August with a series of Japanese shows. It’s also worth taking a look at the band’s Boiler Room set from October, which offers ample evidence of guitarists/vocalists Geordie Greep and Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin, bassist/vocalist Cameron Picton, and drummer Morgan Simpson’s crack musicianship and ability to get a crowd dancing (as opposed to obliterating each other, exclusively).

“It can be quite frustrating sometimes,” Kwasniewski-Kelvin told Spin, “when you go to certain countries and there’s noise limitations...We want to really hit people with it, because we’re a loud band, and sometimes that can be limiting, which is a bit frustrating.”

Keeping the volume down should not be an issue in the nation’s capital. Bring ear plugs, and possibly safety goggles, to this one.

Doors are at 7 pm and tickets are available online.

[posted 11.12.19]


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