A bolt of guerilla noise

Eccentric band remains spontaneous and secretive

Matt Gornick

Issue date: 1/19/07 Section: Arts
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An opening act strikes a final, flat chord, coyly closing out a rather forgettable set as the crowd disperses toward the nearest source of alcohol. While some concertgoers are still fingering the IDs in their pockets, a shock wave rips through the poorly lit venue. The earplugless wince. Instantly, a throng forms around the headlining band, an amorphous beast spewing high-end swoons over low-end in a 45-minute orgy of sound and aural bleeding.

Welcome to Lightning Bolt.

Made up of drummer Brian Chippendale and bassist Brian Gibson, Lightning Bolt was formed at the Rhode Island School of Design, a school that boasts alumni such as Les Savy Fav and Talking Heads. The band has been a dominant presence in the noise scene since its eponymous debut in 1999, while more-recent release Hypermagic Mountain gained critical acclaim across the board in 2005. They will bring their brand of noise-art to Northsix on Jan. 21.

Despite floods of critical praise, commercial mainstream success doesn't seem a likely prospect for the band. Many eyebrows have been raised during their 12-year career - from Chippendale's mask (a quilted mess outfitted with a distortion-laden phone receiver the singer uses as a microphone) to the band's "guerilla" performance methods, playing just about anywhere a stage isn't.

"We played on this stage called, like, 'Chicken Stage' or something in a parking lot," Chippendale said about a gig at a KFC-style restaurant outside of Boston, Texas. "Two kids walked out of the park and watched us, and one old man walked out of the woods and watched us and, like, our friend's dad pulled up in like a car and peeked out of the window."

These kinds of spontaneous, word-of-mouth performances help to continuously reinvigorate the band. Prior to the quickly approaching Northsix show, Chippendale and Gibson plan to take their act to an unidentified basement in the Providence area - what Chippendale plainly refers to as "a warm-up for New York."
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posted 1/21/07 @ 6:37 AM EST

Vader would tear these guys a new one.

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