5/5/08 Holy F**k, M.I.A. @ City Hall, Nashville, Tenn.

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

A remake of Knightrider is under construction and Holy F**k should seriously pen the theme song. A sparse bass and drums unison ornamented by muggy melodies and synths, the tune shares structural similarities with the catalogue of Holy F**k. At City Hall, to the beat of their own KITT, the band married steadfast rhythms with jammy trances.A remake of Knightrider is under construction and Holy F**k should seriously pen the theme song. A sparse bass and drums unison ornamented by muggy melodies and synths, the tune shares structural similarities with the catalogue of Holy F**k. At City Hall, to the beat of their own KITT, the band married steadfast rhythms with jammy trances.

For a band whose name appears deliberately rebellious, Holy F**k’s music obediently engaged the audience. The drummer and bassist would take off neck-and-neck while two other dudes intensely crafted quintessential (if generic) electronica on some sort of multi-knobbed noise-processors. The songs received new levels of palpable noise every turn, becoming more top-heavy with each inserted piece, like reverse-Jenga. Track “Frenchy’s” does just this, starting with a hard beat and layering foggy synthesizers in the same manner as early-Air song “Brakes On.”

Holy F**k also appealed to fans of jam-bands. The songs rarely strayed from their core beat once underway, so nobody had to steer the wheel-permission, whether or not intentional, for a few to dance ecstatically. Their place in the jam zeitgeist would be nearby the Disco Biscuits, a band that also denies traditional song patterns in favor of continual electronic iterations. While the majority of Holy F**k’s catalogue was fast-paced, like the echo-laden and haunting “Pulse,” the slowest, a bittersweet relaxing bit entitled “Lovely Allen” had more replay value later.

If Holy F**k inspired a combination of uncertainty and concealed enjoyment, M.I.A.’s set confiscated free-will and mobilized the troops. Albums Arular and Kala were put in their place as mere studio-enhanced documents of what M.I.A. is: an ostentatious entertainer.

First, the M.I.A. crew projected a short tirade by Japanese dissident Koichi Touyama encouraging us to destroy our country-anarchy about as deserved as Johnny Rotten’s version. Opening track “Bamboo Banga” blasted beats and included a video reminiscent of that maze game popular on T.I. calculators. “Sunshowers” offered reprieve from the bass overload with its sweeter R&B chorus sung by someone other than the life of the party (whose real name is Maya). “10 dollar” conjured J. J. Fad and their grammy-rewarded song “Supersonic.”

The immaculate “Paper Planes” closed and projected a doctored video of M.I.A. on the set of Super Mario Brothers, surfing an 8-bit cloud and firing her guitar like a shotgun. Afterwards, the lights went up, fans hauled out and ears rang: surely the sound of reality reentering the brain, and not too soon.

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5/4/08 Mason Jennings @ City Hall, Nashville, Tenn.

Trent Reznor Says…