Tuesday December 3rd, 2002 at The Replay Lounge in Lawrence, KS
Get Hustle, & V for Vendetta
I called The Replay early in the evening to verify the line up and pray they intended to start the show early. 10:30. Ssion, V for Vendetta, and Get Hustle. Despite my sleepy eyes and my total immersion in the Indiana/Maryland game, I slipped out the door at about 9:15. Forty-five frosty minutes later, I parked by on Mass. Ave and slipped inside.
Since my last visit to The Replay, there have been some marked improvements. First off, due to better space management, the place seems twice as big. Sexy pinball machines still line the club, but gone are the oh-so-passe; video games. In the corner is a cozy booth of sorts, which, it seems, is intended to double as a drum riser. Speakers as monitors now hang from the ceiling, and a new PA drives them all. The club is still dark with smatterings of black lights offset by the flashing red bulbs of pinball machines.
Although I might have been a tad early, noting no opener and no gear is a terrible sign. After paying an incredulously low $2, I slipped into the corner "booth" with a book and read by the lurid glow of the table lamp placed there. With an ottoman I might have been more comfortable, but as time ticked past 10:30, my eyes still began to grow heavy.
Reality rushed back with a thud when Cara Hyde dropped her kick drum on the raised floor by my feet. It was after 11pm when V for Vendetta began setting up. No sign of Ssion. Id later learn they called Adam to cancel around noon that day.
V for Vendetta is a coy sort of band, somewhat hectic and wound both musically and in guitarist Michelle Marcheses mannerisms, but never giving away too much. ADD does seem to be in full effect. To say that the band is math rock is to tell only half the story. Marcheses clean guitar (and on occasion, cleaner acoustic guitar) winds intricate paths peppered with jerky rhythms and precarious stops. It also picks the most opportune times to stop playing altogether. As Hydes drums ignore much the same set of rules, their music is sparse, occasionally barren. Although the math rock formula dictates that instruments play in different time signatures and then merge at calculated points, with only two instruments (one set squarely on rhythm, the other approaching melody) that trait is moot the players in V for Vendetta never match up, or maybe theyre always synchronized in some way the audience doesnt expect.
While all of these qualities earn v4v access into the math-rock guest list, they dont seem satisfied. In a battle cry suitable for their label (Mr. Lady Records), the band has announced their intent to reinvent the genre. Although the band probably falls short of that goal, the delicately sung vocals and layers of programmed ambiance do succeed in differentiating the band. These touches soften up the often cold, passionless genre and isnt it time for a kindler, gentler math-rock band?
Get Hustle, however, are a different animal altogether. Instead of differentiating themselves from a genre, theyve chosen to ignore the concept altogether. While comparisons to the chaos and sex theory of Antioch Arrow arent unfounded, its unlikely these two acts would draw comparisons if Get Hustle werent comprised nearly entirely from the formers members. Certainly there are other bands that could have inspired the hectic, freedom of Get Hustle. None, however, have taken it quite this far without falling off the tuneless cliff.
Get Hustles formula is simple: tribal drumming with occasional forays into holding-pattern-inspired fills, repeated vocal lines presented with Patti-Smith passion not finesse, an organ which serves as bellowing percussion more often than it provides quick memorable "licks", and a keyboard that plays ugly full chords when the mood strikes, and provides seemingly random twinklings when a second itch is scratched. If you have trouble constructing songs from that description, youre not alone the band werent able to create songs from those raw ingredients either.
With only the most minimal structure, the band creates moments of energy. and snapshots of emotion, raw and red. Although I was fairly certain each of these creations were spontaneous occurrences of felt notes and cathartic keyboard abuse, I was proven wrong when one of the audiences more inebriated joined the band on "stage" to sing along with vocalist Valentine Hussar. Who knew there were lyrics? Who knew these noises were repeatable songs?
As I watched the band, I wondered if they were happy to be playing on the floor of The Replay Lounge in Lawrence Kansas on a Tuesday night. I wondered if they were too cool for us. They looked it. And their diehard fans looked it too. With only thirty or thirty-five people in the club, it was easy to spot the few in pointed shoes brought from homes on the couture coasts, imported from unfathomable European lands, or possibly plucked from the unfortunate time machine that is a Midwestern thrift store. Their music told the same story; it was all fashion not yet dreamt of in Middle America. Get Hustle is a fun place to visit, but I wouldnt want to live there.