Ev has synesthesia, and they incorporate their sensory experiences into music reviews. Synesthesia is a condition in which the brain links a person’s senses together in a rare manner, prompting unusual sensory responses to stimuli. People with synesthesia, for example, might see a certain color in response to a certain letter of the alphabet. Those who experience synesthesia “hear colors, feel sounds, and taste shapes” in a remarkably consistent fashion.
Black Squirrel Books, among being a cafe and bookstore, is also a known music venue. Hosting an array of genres, there is always something for everyone to come see and enjoy. On April 19th, the cafe hosted an unforgettable lineup, one I deem to be for the books.
Katy Perry Double Feature opened the shows with such volume that it was certain to pull the crowd in. Despite the show being their first, their good humour and light banter made it all the more natural. Shrill screams, muddled guitar, cool drumming, and bass played absurdly low on the neck, Katy Perry Double Feature was something else entirely.
Distorted and fuzzy, the guitar came out as uneven and the tone is full of feedback. Riffs muddled into the background, almost robotic in nature and muffled by all else, the guitar pierced through the air and pulled the audience through a world of assorted hues. It droned on and kept a steady and bitter pace while other times it transitions to steady Sonic Youth-like riffs. Combinations of chords and notes struck creates a deeper and more immersive soundscape.
The bass wasn’t the expected deep resonant rumbling but rather played up the guitar neck. Creating odd yet suitable bass lines, it was not what would be expected of a noisy, and static rock band. Almost playing with a guitar-like sound, the bass blended itself into the mass amount of noise. Heavy and high, sounding muffled and distant, it sets a new tone to the songs played.
The drumming is cold and distant, almost as if detached from the rest. It echoes and presents as a bone fragment of the drum kit. Carefree and fun despite sounding shallow, hallowed out, and removed, it added a strange backbone. Sounding like it’s playing through some strange warped jukebox made it all the better.
Torpor played next and absolutely brought their all, packing a punch with each and every song they played. Chaotic, loud, and a whirlwind of emotion and energy, they gave the performance their all.
The guitar dominated with incisive power chords. The guitarist played with combining high and low octaves to create a space and pulled the listener into the vivid setting it paints. Rapid and rambunctious, all while maintaining a well-known aggression, the sound came out muffled and muted. Despite this, there was still a resonance that loomed in the air. The ragged and unclean nature of the playing creates feedback which drenched the atmosphere in a murky magenta. The contrast of higher notes and prolonged feedback splash yellow through the rest of the colour.
The bass was an absolute fucking powerhouse. The knock-your-socks-off, heartbeat-in-your-ears, feel-it-in-your-chest awe-striking bassline. The tonal range met is not the thing that’s the most prominent or striking, but rather the rage and energy placed in every single note. It melds deep and rusty oranges and blends them with rich earthy greens, overall producing a rare warmth.
The drumming was hollow and cold cold cold. It swept the crowd with an unspoken energy that got the body moving while being the personification of anger. It was abrasive and harsh, played relentlessly and lacking any form of mercy. Tangled within the acute sound created through the guitar playing, the drumming added spikes of icy blue and bright teals to the mix of colours the band created.
Raw, emotionally charged and delivered with a high in-your-face intensity, the vocals cut through the air like a knife. While they intertwine with each instrument, they depersonalize themselves as well. Higher pitched and angry, they packed a punch while drawing themselves out across the sound. Painting the atmosphere with vivid magentas and obnoxious purples, the vocals radiated an energy I found unmatched.
The last band to play was NYC’s Decisions. The band tore the floorboards apart with the sheer ferocity of the buildup of each song. Weighted and a sort of Frankenstein patchwork of aggression and awareness, the band spread messages important to their core values.
Filled with aggravation and bitter resentment, the vocals found their way to the front. They pushed the messages the lyrics give into your space. They rammed into you full force without room to stagger and riot against police brutality, among other pressing social issues. They’re ragged and fucking ripped with a passion pit into every last word. Lazily dragged out for a vocal effect, shaky but rather impactful, every scream was accentuated further due to it.
Built up and upon, the guitar playing was raw. Dirty melodies and slow contortions into power chords that sounded like they were played through a cheese grater, the playing is masterful. The riffs aforementioned lead to relentless releases of frustration that held a weight. Take the green spray paint and go to town with tagging because that’s what the guitar sounds like.
The bass was punchy and hollow, heavy, and warm. It jumbled itself with the rest of the instrumentals and gets buried within, yet it protruded. The bassline pronounced itself through the shake of the floor, through the ghostly and echoing sound. Adding rich chestnut to an array of hues painted through the air, the bass packed that earthy hallowed out sound.
The drums were frigid and dead as dust. Colder than the Arctic, but booming nonetheless. Their true potential was released when each beat falls in rapid succession to one another. Riding the ride cymbal all the way through the set, it was like a best friend—the tool most used and quite frankly used so effectively that people threw their bodies to and fro.
Each band brought something special to drive the crowd wild. Whether it was spunk in form of warped jukebox sound, uncontrolled relentless feedback, or playing so aggressive it got shred through a cheese grater before reaching our desperate ears, every band absolutely smashed it. Given the chance, I would urge you go see them perform. They all know how to move and mosh with the crowd.