Show Spotlight: Algiers + Hammered Hulls + Light Beams @ Black Cat, 3/12/20
Today, Ben spotlights this week's killer triple bill that sees Algiers, Hammered Hulls, and Light Beams together at the Black Cat.
Politics and Bros: Algiers, Hammered Hulls, Light Beams bring sharp discourse, jagged post-hardcore to Black Cat on March 12
What does it mean to be a political band in 2020?
It’s a year in which a coalition of credible musical artists like Cardi B, Killer Mike, Ariana Grande, Kim Gordon, Sophie (Soccer Mom) Allison, and Jack White, among many others, are uniting behind perhaps the most progressive political candidate with a legit shot at the presidency since...Gene McCarthy? Adlai Stevenson? FDR?
It’s a year in which Donald Trump is unironically playing Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” a scathing take on the hypocrisy inherent in the American ideal, at his despicable rallies despite Young’s vehement requests for the president to cut it out.
It’s a year in which Rage Against The Machine, the band responsible for exposing 25 years’ worth of rock radio listeners to blistering anarcho-socialist political commentary between White Zombie and Creed tracks, is reuniting to play Coachella, among other tony venues, for tickets that easily cost fans three figures.
And then there is Algiers, an “inescapable brawl of ideas and ideals, needs and resentments,” as Zachary Lipez wrote in The Washington Post, whose records sample the Black Panthers, reference police shooting victims, and draw inspiration from T.S. Eliot and racist microaggressions.
The quartet—vocalist Franklin Fisher, guitarist Lee Tesche, bassist Ryan Mahan, and former Bloc Party drummer Matt Tong—does it all while mashing up hardcore, industrial, and soul music into a cacophonic mess that’s somehow cathartically angry and subversively joyous.
Algiers will visit Washington, DC on Thursday, March 12 to headline a show at Black Cat (1811 14th St. NW). Local artists Hammered Hulls and Light Beams are also on the bill. Tickets are $15 and doors are at 7:30 PM.
So what does it mean to be a political band in 2020? While Fisher told NME.com in January that “I cannot imagine anyone...making music (that) does not reflect the desperate and totally absurd and hopeless political landscape that we’re in,” being a political band in 2020 can also mean rejecting the label of being a political band.
“I get frustrated when people cast us just as a protest band, or rabble-rousers with a cause,” Tesche explained to writer Patrick Clarke. “People ask me more about my thoughts on current events than our music, which can be frustrating because at the end of the day we’re a band.”
Fisher added that the 2019 Algiers single “Can the Sub_Bass Speak?” is “...the last statement I will need to make for a while about personal racial politics...I got tired of talking to a majority white media about me being black.”
Algiers are in the midst of a US tour for their third full-length record, There is No Year, released this past January on Matador Records. The DC show will be special for Tesche, who recently remarked in an American Songwriter interview that “...when I grew up, I was obsessed with the music coming out of Washington, DC, all the hardcore that wasn’t necessarily escapist music. It was socially conscious and had a lot of raw emotion. It just sort of struck a chord with me, and all of us relate on that level.”
One of the people responsible for that politically charged hardcore music coming out of the nation’s capital was Alec MacKaye, of Untouchables, Faith, and Warmers fame, whose roots in the local punk scene date back to the late 1970s.
MacKaye is the singer for Hammered Hulls, one of Thursday’s openers and a kind of local supergroup that includes guitarist Mary Timony (Helium, Autoclave, Wild Flag, Ex Hex), guitarist Mark Cisneros (Des Demonas, Kid Congo Powers), and drummer Chris Wilson (Ted Leo and the Pharmacists). Their Dischord EP, S/T, was produced by legendary local boardsman Don Zientara and Mr. Ian MacKaye himself. Dear reader, you can’t get more D.C. than Hammered Hulls.
Light Beams, another local outfit, features Justin Moyer (samples, vocals), Arthur Noll (bass), and Sam Levine (drums) and has been on the DMV radar since 2015.
What should you expect? Expect the unexpected, music fans!
“The sampler is an essential part of Light Beams’ songwriting,” notes the band’s writeup on the Don Giovanni Records website. “At shows and on record, Moyer triggers samples from pads rather than sequencing them to a rigid master clock — no laptops or click tracks. The rhythm section follows along as best it can, giving the music an unusual, slightly unstable feel.”
Light Beams’ Self Help album was released on Jan. 31.
Tickets for the show are available online.