Scratched Into Our Souls

Lightning Bolt – “Assassins” | July 18, 2010

Today was the last day of the Pitchfork Music Festival, being held in Chicago’s Union Park, calling out to hipsters everywhere. The controversial and divisive publication streamed a good number of the sets live on their website throughout the weekend, culminating in headlining sets by Modest Mouse on Friday, LCD Soundsystem on Saturday (easily the best-in-show), and though headlining act Pavement was not streamed today, rap guru Big Boi finished off the online streams with a bang.

Perhaps the most interesting live show I was fortunate enough to witness this weekend was Lightning Bolt, an experimental art-rock due from Providence, Rhode Island, who play squalls of feedback, screeching vocals, heavy bass distortion, and an absolute fury of ferocious drumming — all with only two band members. 

The band played to a enthusiastic crowd in the heat of the day, and I can’t imagine a better total experience and analogy for listening to Lightning Bolt’s singular art-form. Taking elbows in the side, exhausting yourself physically, and letting Mother Nature beat down upon you with ungodly rays of sunshine that could very well lead to cancer – wrap up that feeling, that experience, and turn it into an aural assault, and you have a good start for what it’s like to listen to Lightning Bolt. Even their name creates an accurate depiction of the Lightning Bolt listening experience: first, there is a blinding flash of white hot light, followed by a cacophony of rumbling noise that might as well be the very voice of God himself.

A few albums into their career, Lightning Bolt can sometimes feel like they are spinning their wheels. Are they one trick ponies? Not exactly. Subtle differences in approach and feeling change the albums drastically, but it still takes a careful ear and a willingness to investigate the strange and decidedly un-pretty to appreciate what’s going on with their music. Most listeners will listen to Lightning Bolt and find themselves cowering in a corner within minutes. For the more avant garde listeners amongst us, Lightning Bolt serve as proof that experimentalism and the essence of punk music are still alive and well. They may be kicking and screaming, but rest assured they are alive and well.

Listen: Lightning Bolt – “Assassins”


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    About Me: Chris Robinson

    A budding writer and avid music fan from Los Angeles, California, I am a recent graduate of Music History from UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music. I've written for the UCLA Daily Bruin, graduated valedictorian from high school, and enjoy many different types of music, from The Beatles to Beethoven, and everything in between. I wrote my senior thesis on lyrical misinterpretations in popular music, focusing on Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA."

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    All music posted on this blog is for sampling purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Go out and buy their music, attend their shows, and buy merchandise.

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