Purling Hiss with Technicolor Teeth and Head On Electric @ Linneman’s
April 18, 2013
As the crowd filled in, openers Head On Electric turned up, flipped on a strobe light and went to work on a furious set of jagged grunge and crooked, spaced-out country. Of all the Nirvana-cribbing that would take place over the course of the evening, Head On Electric’s guitarist/lead singer had most precisely nailed Cobain’s noisy soloing and blood-curdling sneer. But the band’s songs featured plenty of surprising turns, shifting spastically from drifting reverie to hard-charging punk.
When Technicolor Teeth went on, I was standing near the back, where the sound coming from their half-stacks felt like a strong gust of wind. I impulsively moved to the front for the surging “Station Wagon,” and was immediately pummeled into near submission. A Technicolor Teeth show is a truly physical experience: you feel the songs before (and long after) you hear them, which is why I don’t buy complaints like “It’s too loud” or “You can’t hear the lyrics.” To those who feel that way, I contend that TT is much more balanced and “listenable” on record. Live, though, this band’s main objective seems to be building up towering formations of sound and driving them forcefully into oblivion/the audience, which they certainly accomplished Thursday. In a set of mostly new material, an oldie stood out as the centerpiece: the slow, sprawling “At Home in a Coma.”
After both openers had blasted the room with volume, the first moments of Purling Hiss’ set felt almost waiflike. But the Philly trio’s strengths lie elsewhere, in two areas that became quickly apparent: unbridled, old-fashioned axe-wielding and stoned little pop hooks. Both were on display during opener “Water On Mars,” which began with five-and-a-half-minutes of noodling before breaking into a scrappy garage pop bounce. It was obvious that guitarist and lead singer Mike Polizze is one of those compulsive, life-long shredders by the way he kept sneaking solos into places the average guitarist wouldn’t dream of. Then, of course, there were the groovy swaths specifically intended for guitar solos, and Polizze filled those too—most impressively with a boiling, near-transcendent one on “Almost Washed My Hair,” the highpoint of the set.