Screaming Match @ The Primitive Room, Spring Hill, 26.04.13
The trick is to make others jealous.
The trick is to make others jealous without them resenting you.
The trick is to make it seem like the only good time in the room to be had is your good time.
The trick is not to feel exclusionary.
I made a mistake last time I mentioned Screaming Match. Carried away in the passion of my enthusiasm, I focused on one band member. I didn’t mean it to come across that way. Watching Screaming Match live, it’s very clear they’re a dynamic, a band of equals but differents – what makes them so great (and they are great, nerve-endings jangling and constant threat of collapse adding to the sense of bewilderment and awe) is the clash and play between three diffuse personalities. Sarah. Drea. Alex. Battling for your attention. Constantly trying to create the most annoying (compliment) sound or piercing shout, to outdo one another, but always coming back into some sense of discordant harmony, a helpless beauty (that these three people are friends is clear – nowhere else can you find such refreshing competitiveness). When the two vocals are disharmonising and the guitar agonising, that’s as close to heaven as I need. Tonight, shed of all sleep and sense of reality, anyway.
Great dancefloor bass.
Drea will start up a song, yelling – only to be overwhelmed by Sarah, thundering down on the drums (and man, how refreshing is it to see a rock drummer standing up, for added power). Sarah will start up a song, only to be thrown and cast aside by Drea. Alex will be whipping out incisive shards of post-91 noise guitar, early No Wave, destroying whole songs with feedback (compliment). If this makes them sound unfocused than it’s my bad again. They’re not. Not at all. This is Raincoats focused. This is Kleenex good. This is as rampant and stormy and unsettling as even that one live performance I saw Furious Pig give in 1980. (There are closer parallels, obviously and wider influences. What someone writes about music always reveals more about them than the music itself.)
The trick is this: Don’t let the facade slip.
Today, this morning. Daniel screaming and his whole body shaking, he’s screaming so much, lashing out, trying with all his near-4-year-old might to hurt his mother, his mother in tears, me thundering at the top of my voice, black rings under everyone’s eyes, another day to be got through, another day to be survived (how sad is that?), another day in a long sequence of another days. I catch the bus into work. Sweat, horrible sticky cold sweat, collects under my collar and prickles my skin on the ancient smoke-smelling bus. Coffee congeals. I try to break out of my confines for a few seconds, be myself, and am slapped back down in no uncertain manner. One shoulder doesn’t move, I’m missing the lower half of my left jaw. My computer’s dead, cannot afford to replace it. I want to break out, be myself – but I don’t think my ‘self’ even exists these days, not the self I was used to for so long. The one that radiated stardust, generated treasure maps. I no longer create music, I no longer listen to music except rarely. The outside world doesn’t exist beyond a handful of communications on Facebook. And yet I cannot express myself, even in writing, for fear of what would happen to this ‘outside world’. (This paragraph has been censored.)
I cannot relate to Screaming Match on so many levels – two ladies and a gent still so vividly alert to the possibilities in life – and yet I’m certain that’s much of the attraction of their music to me. They’re doing something I cannot or will not: spontaneous and driven and friendship-based and brilliantly minimal as their band is. Music fills a need. Occasionally, I need to see folk being themselves to remind me of what I’m not.
There’s a theory that has it the day your first child is born is the day you stop appreciating Daniel Johnston.
You can download the music from this set over at Brendan’s blog.