A friend of mine who came to the Seamonster with me last night commented after leaving the show, “I don’t know — I’m just really not that into jazz.” Something about too many notes, where’s the ideas, the beat, etc: common criticisms and hurdles with the form. Personally I do not listen to jazz much at home and when I do it will probably Skies of America as oppossed to Miles Davis or Charlie Parker. Live, though, I usually find jazz refreshing. Even the Suffering Fuckheads.
The Fuckheads’ core consists of Mike Peterson on drums (the Accussed, Sean) and local Hammond maestro, Ron Weinstein. (For last night’s show they were joined by a trumpeter and guitarist.) Despite the intense hyperbole spouted by their MySpace page* the Fuckheads are not nearly all that skronky-blast-beaty-or-avant-gardy, at least in the final sound. Peterson and Weinstein fly furiously through rhythmic and melodic ideas, using jazz stanards and originals to simply give them some ground to fly.
Peterson is almost a one man show in himself. Looking like some demented, red-bearded woodsman who beats the skins somewhere between grindcore precision and Elvin Jones swing, it takes awhile to fly throught he sheer wall of his playing to decipher lightspeed rush of various rhythms, shifts, and musical jokes. Weinstein counters appearing like a enthusiastic teenager in a happy older man’s body, intertwining flying jazz bass-lines and a variety of organ techniques — Herbie Hancock getting out there in Booker T. Jones’ body with Charlie Haden’s soul lost in his right hand. (Never enough hyperbole, y’know).
Despite being a gloriously gone noise, the intensity/oddness comes mainly from the viciousness of the playing. As organ and drums wind up insane fury, they never break into intentional skronk, abrasiveness, or atonal wankery. Their weird schizoid genius is constantly filtered through (here’s a gasp to the post-avant-garde-modernism-whatever crowed) a dominance of their instruments and a desire to play music, and not deconstruct it. Whenever the trumpet slides in for a solo, chorus or jam, whatever fury was being brewed seems to disspiate. It’s a sound that let’s you know you’re firmly on ground, somewhere in a George Mitchell song, and not some John Zorn experiment.
The Fuckheads are too freaky to get caught up in the aesthetics of shock and awe. They play. They shred. They take no prisoners. But they also sound damn good.
The Suffering Fuckheads perform every other Thursday at the Seamonster Lounge (2202 N 45th Street). Next show is Thursday, 5/14.
*”The Suffering Fuckheads music is a lethal cocktail of skronk and blues, post- bop coupled with turbulent blast-beats, and tenderyet-skewed ballads (Beautiful Love) along side innovative band originals (Bar Slut). The Suffering Fuckheads are not sonic wallpaper. They are not going to behave and play background music. They are not going to play your next shitty dinner party. They are not going to play your wedding, but they might do your divorce.”