Triple Eyes Industries Played to its Base at its Latest Showcase
Operating an independent record label often involves pulling off some rather tricky balancing acts—between artistic concerns and financial ones and between personal and professional relationships—but maybe the most difficult tightrope walk is a much more conceptual one: deciding where to draw the line between which sounds fit and which don’t.
On the one hand, some stylistic consistency helps establish an identity, which can in turn connect you with loyal likeminded listeners, but lean too far in that direction or cater to one constituency too much and risk finding yourself stuck in a musical cul-de-sac, all but ensuring that your reach is limited to one particular niche. Put short, playing only to your base can eventually become somewhat oppressive, which was certainly the case with last weekend’s showcase from Triple Eye Industries, a local label that knows what it likes and largely sticks to it, even if it means being kind of inaccessible to any potential newcomers.
It isn’t as if Triple Eyes’ stable of artists lacks talent. It sports notable acts from all around the region, including local highlights like Static Eyes and Soup Moat, but it didn’t take long after the churning heaviness of Volunteer started off this installment of their annual two-day festival to notice a distinct pattern: Not only did every single one of the dozen bands look pretty much the same, specifically white guys in groups of no less than three and no more than four, they all stayed in a similar sonic lane as well, specializing in a no-nonsense strain of noise rock pitched somewhere between punk and metal.
There were differences, of course: Chicago’s Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends injected some spazzy pop-punk energy into the mix, for instance, and Buildings made memorable use of squealing feedback, but they were relatively subtle and, for anyone not already a devoted connoisseur, rather easy to overlook.
Given the sheer specificity of the music on display Saturday, it was perhaps unsurprising that the crowd wasn’t too diverse either; in fact, while it’s not unusual for a show like this to skew somewhat male, the gender imbalance here was remarkable. That varied slightly between Club Garibaldi and Cactus Club, but overall it was hard not to get a sense of uniformity, which is unfortunate since something like Chicago’s bombastic Ribbonhead, for example, or the quasi-classic rock swagger of Hot Coffin, could have come off a lot better were it not for the overwhelming sameness of their surroundings.
By the time War Brides’ earsplitting set wrapped things up, plenty of genuinely good acts had graced the two stages, but few had a chance of standing out amid a six-hour stretch of sound-alikes—lost in a blur of blast beats and chugging basslines. Stylistic focus can be beneficial for a label, but even specialty imprints need to strike a balance between keeping things consistent and keeping things interesting.