It’s been nearly 12 hours since local noise-rockers Captain Hollow and Haru Bangs left the stage of Port City Music Hall, and my ears are still ringing. Check that, bleeding. Profusely. On Tuesday the two bands split the bill as part of the venue’s ongoing “Two” series, featuring two local acts for $2, for a night of cacophonous guitars and shredded vocal cords that, without a doubt, left everyone in attendance with a constant din in their ear for the rest of their work week. Did I mention it was loud?
Opening act Haru Bangs kicked off the night with a set of explosive songs combining breakneck hardcore-punk rhythms, sludgy death-metal riffing and effects-laden noise freak-outs that quickly raised both the volume and intensity in the room to 11, and caused all newborn infants within a ten-mile area to simultaneously cry out in agony. But apparently that wasn’t enough for the Bangs’ lead guitarist, who in apparent dissatisfaction with the level of crowd participation, decided to take matters into his own hands (literally and figuratively), by making an impromptu trip through the audience to ‘re-arrange’ the metal barrier in front of the stage, along with several concert-goers, in an effort to get the crowd flailing uncontrollably.
While the move may or may not have prompted at least one security guard to stand and scowl by the edge of the stage, I have to admit, with the current state of rock as placid as it is, it’s refreshing to see a live band go completely ape-shit and mangle something every now and then. The driving momentum and furious guitar squalor carried on for the remainder of the set, with a dizzying array of effects and bone-crunching riffs propelled by an absolutely relentless rhythm section that truly was something to behold.
The lyrics were largely inaudible, and the deafening wall of sound certainly may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but seeing Haru Bangs live was a welcome change of pace from the monotony of many live acts. That alone is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat, and the brink of your sanity.
Headliners Captain Hollow, who hail from Bangor with the exception of lead guitarist Jakob Battick (Portland), continued the evenings aural-assault with their unique blend of frenetic off-kilter rhythms, spastic guitar work and inspired vocal wails. Opener ‘Hour of Need’ set the tone for the remainder of the set, with furiously strummed guitars and anguished howls spiraling into open-string dissonance and back again, somewhat reminiscent of early 90’s noise-rockers Polvo, Chavez and Dinosaur Jr. While the approach has certainly been taken before, each song maintained a strong identity from the next, with clearly distinct guitar parts and sincere vocal takes, albeit sometimes screamed at decibel-defying levels. You could call it ‘emo’ at times, but what this band definitely has is heart, which counts a lot in my book, and in listening to the first album to the demo of their forthcoming album, I think the recent addition of Battick on guitar will only open this band to even greater influences and possibilities in time to come.
On a side note, if music isn’t your thing this band also has some of the most amusingly bizarre album artwork I’ve seen from a local band, featuring collages of wholesome familial portraiture obliterated by scenes of pure and utter depravity (think Norman Rockwell on a harrowing acid trip to the center of his mind). Either way, check them out.