This past weekend, Steve at Cuneiform gave me the heads-up regarding a show in downtown DC: the Aleuchatistas, a kind of heavy math-rock/prog band who are compared to the Ruins, King Crimson, John Zorn, et al. It sounded like something right up my alley. Sure enough, the show was pretty jaw-dropping. These guys are phenomenally tight, playing a noisy, chaotic, lightning-fast, rhythmically incomprehensible (my girlfriend is an accomplished musician and was at times trying to figure out what they were counting, but apparently she just got herself all confused) kind of avant-rock. The guitarist and bassist seemed telepathically linked, and they were anchored by a drummer who seemed to have about three extra limbs, not to mention extra brains to control each one independently. Yeah, they were pretty cool.
Talent aside, it was almost too much for me. I have trouble listening to stuff like the Ruins or Koenjihyakkei or similarly nonstop, über-intense bands. Ahleuchatistas, as it happened, were pretty amazing live because of their refusal to let up on the gas pedal, but I’m not sure how well I would stomach their studio albums. I didn’t have the cash on me to buy them at the show, but I’m sure I’ll pick them up sooner or later (Wayside has them, not surprisingly as Steve is a big fan of these guys). The fact that their second, perhaps more highly-acclaimed, album, is a concise 28 minutes long, will certainly help me digest it.
Oh, and the venue? A neat little hole in the wall (though a nicely renovated one) near the convention center — the Warehouse Nextdoor. All ages, with a tiny bar, nonsmoking. A pretty intimate setting and perfect for a band like Ahleuchatistas, who managed to clear out about 75% of the crowd (who were probably there mostly for the two, much younger, probably local, opening bands) after about two frighteningly complex and comparatively inaccessible songs. The tiny venue helped the atmosphere stay exciting even though the crowd got really small.
The band have some MP3s on their website. If you like the Ruins but wish they were instrumental and added a guitar to their basic bass-drums duo lineup, check these guys out. Their website indicates that they’re playing a bunch of live gigs this spring (and they’ll be back in DC on June 13).