Churchill's Pub, Miami
Friday, February 21, 2014
Some bands wield volume artistically, turning sound waves into bludgeoning vehicles of expression and tapping into the very viscera of the audience through sheer force. Bands like Swans, Japan's Boris, and Miami's own Holly Hunt all use decibels to bolster the inherent aural and mental stimuli of their art.
Then, there's Jucifer, a duo so addicted to volume that the members spend most of their waking life either moving a literal wall of amplifiers in and out of clubs or testing the structural integrity of said clubs with its sludge-metal assault. The band took to Churchill's Pub last Friday night to rattle the bottles and crowd members' brains in what was an awesomely obnoxious display of volume.
With Jucifer's wall of amplifiers looming over the stage like a scale replica of Kowloon Walled City, the Miami heavy-music scene was once again given an opportunity to flex its muscles.
Things got underway with Cave of Swimmers (formerly The Tunnel) taking the pub's floor and shredding through a set of its synth-infused progressive doom. The duo tossed the crowd a Metallica cover early on, setting a positive vibe for the night before blowing through several of its own turbulent compositions, full of rumbling synth, searing guitars, and operatic vocals.
Next up was Sperm, a post-hardcore band from Buffalo, New York, and a late addition to the night's lineup. The three piece thumped and screamed in the style of the mid '90s, replete with bursts of intricate guitar riffage and an unrelenting fuzzy bass churn. The threesome was surprisingly well-received, especially considering that it was the odd-band-out on the bill.
Following Sperm was the recently rebooted Devalued, Broward's answer to all of the intense grind and crust Miami has been putting out as of late. Devalued hit the floor to a swelling crowd and proceeded to absolutely level the room, thrashing out songs that displayed the band's newfound maturity and unbridled lust for sonic violence. With songs as structurally progressive as they were just plain filthy, Devalued's performance delivered the crowd from calm and collected to a swarm of frenzied moshers, and left us tending a serious bang-over and patiently awaiting the announcement of a new release.
Holly Hunt's performance was the bone-rattling blast of fuzzy textures and dissonant psychedelia we've come to know and love of the duo. However, the set was made special by the inclusion of some fresh fare that hinted at a slight shift in direction for the group. The new tracks featured drummer, Beatriz Monteavaro, hammering away with a bit more detail than we've seen on older material, and guitarist, Gavin Perry, managing to somehow conjure the sound of a collapsing building from his array of effects pedals and vintage Hiwatt amps.
Jucifer's wall of amps immediately shorted Churchill's fuses. However, once the band got good and going, well...they blew the fuses again. And then, finally, the all-consuming cacophony everyone had shown up to receive was released with completely vulgar force. The crowd huddled close to the stage for whatever reason, a riotous lot of masochist appearing to take the sonic sacrament gleefully as they worshipped in front of the comically large stack of assorted Sunn, Ampeg, and home-brew cabinetry. The single note doom was pushed along by rhythms beaten from a set of drums culled entirely from the shells of bass drums, and the duo did what they could to force bowel movements from the crowd with the brownest of sounds.
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The thing about Jucifer is that, at that volume, the songs themselves cease to mean much of anything. The vocals are lost in the wash of fuzzed guitar, and you're left with an experience that is really just a spectacle of noise. And what a spectacle it is at that. However, it's a test of ones salt to see how long you can stomach the attack, to see if you can make it to the end of the set without walking away. Even with earplugs in, the sound pressure was mind-numbing. The crowd enjoyed every minute of it, however.