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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Friday, May 2 @ Turner Hall Ballroom

May. 6, 2008
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A cursory glance at current events attests that there are fates more physiologically unpleasant than having to endure—without sunglasses—Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's two-hour set at Turner Hall. Enucleation by a flaming sparkler or being tied to a chair and forced to watch a feature-length flicker film in a sauna, however, are not among them.

Friday night's aural and visual onslaught was not unlike witnessing the implosion of a minor star during a meteor shower while being crushed to death by a wall of sound that’s missing a few bricks. All of this had the trappings of a great metal show, but was a white elephant from a band that utters the words “I gave my soul to a new religion/ Whatever happened to you, rock 'n' roll?and still manages to play it straight.

To their credit, B.R.M.C.’s epic set required Herculean stamina. Displaying veteran foresight, drummer Nick Jagowisely wore sunglasses, ostensibly to combat the constant barrage of seizure-inducing strobe lights, which were mounted above eye-level to mete out cornea-shattering white lashings. If the amps were cranked up to 10, the lights surely blared at 11.

During an acoustic intermission—a brief but welcome respite from the mind-numbing lightfuck—B.R.M.C. pulled cuts from their Americana-tinged 2005 album Howl.With strummed round-robin soliloquies by Peter Hayes and Robert Levon Been, they seemed out to prove they're not entirely resting on their Stone Roses—er, laurels.

The evening's hyperbolic presentation tested the limits of a power dynamic between audience and performers, the latter either oblivious to or inconsiderate of their fans' tolerance for visual contrast. The experience was an exercise in sadomasochism, tantamount to an electric fist in the face by an incoherent lover who's forgotten the safety word. None of this paves the way for a lasting relationship, but certainly burns in the afterimage of an indelible one-night stand.


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