Certainly seeing the Foo Fighters at the State Theater in 1996 was loud. My ears rang for hours afterward. But the volume was never overpowering.
The most ear-shreddingly boss blitzkrieg I ever witnessed found me unprepared. A handful of friends made off to a party at John Olson’s house. I’d never been there before or since, but I remember liking it.
I found a photocopied mail-order record catalog with descriptions about Crash Coffin and Straight Eight that piqued my interest. Someone spun Machine’s “There But For the Grace of God” on the turntable and Matt Smith was going off about how he’d always thought the Gories had written that song.
There was a rumble in the basement that few people chose to check out. Feeling adventurous, I walked down the few dark steps to a typical suburban Detroit basement. Dudes (as no single word completely encompasses what this band was other than that) were playing laconic jams.
I could not have been in that basement more than five minutes total. But at one distinct moment, without any warning, the volume went from basement loud to unbearably painful. Slowly, every one of the 15 or so people gathered in that basement pursed their fingers over both ears. It was a like an unplanned game of Simon Says.
The amazing thing was that there was nothing visibly facilitating this newfound volume thrust…it’s not like they’d just turned on another amplifier or stomped a pedal or something. In my mind, it was the sheer romantic willpower and resolve of the band that pushed the cacophony over the edge.
I made my way upstairs very soon after heading down. Word was the cops were at the door, stoners suddenly willed to speed in putting out joints and possibly even bong-tokes. I’m sure I was just nervous being in the room. We left soon thereafter.
It took me years to find out that the band in the basement was Black Dice. Even heard Patti Schmidt mention the Olson basement gig once on her radio show Brave New Waves. But I’ve also been told that Black Dice sounds nothing like that anymore. I like that. A moment, shared by strangers, lost and forgotten by some, but held onto eternally for others.