Holy Fuck ::: Photo by Abbey Simmons
What’s in a name? William Shakespeare created Juliet Capulet to ask the question. Hundreds of years later, I think we’re too busy with the ordinariness of our lives to answer it.
When you’re a adolescent or teenager and you’re are thinking about starting a band, the issue of band name is almost always overly important. You imagine the name in lights. During classroom boredom you’ll scrawl it on the desk and in your notebook. You might even tag it on restaurant tables and in phone booths. Unfortunately for you, you’re so young that your taste in band names is complete shit or juvenile in humor. Before you know it, your band name is Lesbian Bikini Team, you write riffs that would make Ted Nugent proud, and you call your songs “Sexual Glaze.” Believe me I know, this happened to me.
Eventually you’ll get to a point where you realize band names mean nothing. It’s all about your music (read: product) and whether people can identify with it (read: want to buy into it) or not. Sometimes you have bands that become pop culture icons, who also happen to have the worst band names in the world. I know, this is actually not a big surprise at all. A primary example of this would be Def Leppard. What is a “leppard”? It’s not a leopard. Despite the horrific band name, Def Leppard will probably outlast their animal counterpart. (The rest of this review has credibility. I swear.) My point is, not everyone can have cool names like Dillenger Escape Plan and melt your face off with their live show.
Holy Fuck are a band with a cool name. But even if that wasn’t their name, they’d make you think it was. As in “Holy fuck! These dudes are awesome!” In a time where there’s a slew of bands that have “fuck” or some sort of variation in the band name, it’s important to be good enough to differentiate from the rest. Holy Fuck do just that. They want you to dress up like a cheap C-3PO knockoff and meet them at some trendy downtown dance club so they can rock that new robot body of yours. They want you reduced to a pile of nuts, gears and bolts. Before they even took the stage, their pre-performance ritual of jumping up and down was more exciting than some of the bands I saw actually performing at Bumbershoot. And as soon as they took it to the stage, it was lights, camera and…doot beeep doot doot bee boop bop. Whirrrrrrrr. Bass that sounded like it was using Thor’s mouth for amplification. Drums that were reminiscent of early DJ Shadow. Occasionally vocals would cry out for help only to be engulfed again by sweet feedback. At times Holy Fuck are like a simplified, analog bastard child of Battles. That’s a good thing, seeing as Battles is one of my favorite bands. Yes, I’m fully aware that there is nothing inherently “analog” about Holy Fuck. But between the two bands, I think it’s safe to say that Battles is the one that is digitally enhanced and technically advanced.
Whatever the case may be, Holy Fuck had the Broad Street stage and its muddy surroundings ablaze on Sunday night. They had the best set I saw during Bumbershoot and I saw a lot of good sets. Like any good “danceable” band they had me going through a number of emotions, yet I’m pretty sure I was doing the same dance the entire time. It’s weird how that happens. I closed my eyes and thought, “Wow, this music sounds like robots wrapping Wonka bars in Willy Wonka’s factory.” I wasn’t even on drugs. “Frenchy’s” was as intense as it was undeniably infectious. During most of the song the bassist kept on making these goofy on-time faces at the drummer. It was pretty hilarious. Come to think of it, besides playing bass I think his only other reason for being onstage was to make the drummer laugh. The beginning of “Jungles” reminded me of The Wall-era Pink Floyd with the abrupt bass and cymbal catches. However, after a matter of moments that song turns into a Decepticons-terrorizing-Berlin groove before returning back to its original form.
“What is that machine?”
I kept on hearing spectators mutter on the side of the stage. I had been thinking the same thing since Holy Fuck took the stage. Brian, one of the chief noisemakers of Holy Fuck, looked like he was pulling film out of a mutated Polaroid camera. Obviously, this is no camera. He keeps on rotating it and when the supposed “film” slides through the machine. Crazy noise ensues.
Oh fuck, am I listening to Daft Punk all of a sudden? Has the Space Needle become my de-facto poor, poor, poor, poor, poor man’s Eiffel Tower? “Royal Gregory” will do that to you. It will take you to Paris without your permission. “Milkshake” rocked like some sort of tribal rite of passage. Sporadic machine-gun-snare meeting foreboding bass lines and peculiarly placed chimes. When every song died, there were screams of appreciation from the crowd. Mass jubilation. Holy Fuck didn’t let the crowd adore them for too long though, often cutting the applause short in order to send the mob back into a frenzy.
After Holy Fuck were done, I didn’t want to see any other acts. My night was finished. The only alternative was seeing Holy Fuck again later that night at Neumos. I wouldn’t have settled for anything less.
Holy Fuck ::: Photo by Abbey Simmons