Head! I've Got! It! Hurts My!

Pigment Vehicle drummer Jason Bonneau Pigment Vehicle
with Closed Caption Radio and LAMS
The Brickyard
Vancouver, B.C.
Friday, July 11, 1997

Review by Darren Kerr
Photography by Todd Duncan

On this night, at this bar, there was no better place in Vancouver for one to get a headache. Depending on who you were, this was either welcome or abhorrent. 'Entertainment Through Pain' isn't just the title of a Throbbing Gristle album; for the bands tonight, it's their raison d'être.

Tavis and Vince of the Lams LAMS, from Edmonton, are a traditional form of bash and strangle punk rock in the same realm as Angry Samoans. They are tight and focused and they mean business. Playing songs from their CD We Want Your Beer, they ripped through a powerful set in front of a mostly indifferent audience. Vocalist Tavis Edwards possesses an arresting stage presence when he is in his element, which is in front of people willing to let loose a little, but I don't think he was quite firing on all cylinders tonight. The highlight of the band's set was, as always, bassist Vince Heschel singing a Stompin' Tom cover like some pissed-off biker sasquatch. If you ever get the chance to catch LAMS at an all-ages show, do it!

Vancouver's Closed Caption Radio thrust and parry like Drive Like Jehu, but, to be honest, they need some depth, some colour, something for the constant rhythmic lurch to contrast with. They do make quite an impressive noise, though. Have you ever seen the Paul Williams flick, Phantom of the Paradise? Well, in his gold lamé dress and curly blond wig, the singer/bassist was a dead ringer for Beef, played by Gerrit Graham. (He even moves like him.) The guitarist had some great sounds, even making Closed Caption Radio his guitar sound like a flute during one particularly stirring instrumental break. The band members were a heap o' fun to watch, as Gold Dress beat his bass against the floor and the guitarist spazzed out in glee. Meanwhile, the drummer was in complete control, never doubting for a second that, if he let any loose threads unravel, the whole sweater would fall apart. It's gonna be fun watching these guys progress and grow.

(P.S. My kingdom for a lyric sheet.)

Now, if Closed Caption Radio are math rock, then Sidney B.C.'s Pigment Vehicle are advanced calculus/pi to nine decimal points/so you wanna be a rocket scientist? rock, and, if the mark of true evil were precision, then these three guys would be the rulers of hell. How do you practice this stuff? How do you play it? How could you possibly dance to it? It's it! What is it? It's it! What is it?

Pigment Vehicle bassist Colin MacRae Tolan 'Snotfinger' Macneil plays guitar the way Anthony Burgess writes books: in a style totally and unequivocally his own. He creates new scales, unheard-of modes and repetitive stanzas, a bit like Robert Fripp has been doing for years. Colin MacRae may be the best bass player I have ever witnessed. [ed. And Darren plays bass!] He did everything: dissonant harmonics, blisteringly fast runs, and riffs of hairy fire. All this while singing. I wouldn't have believed it if I wasn't there! Drummer Jason Bonneau is also brilliant. He, too, while singing.

There were more stops and starts here than at a Boredoms show. People beside me were saying, "I'm exhausted just watching them." The songs were sung in a meter that can only be described as discombobulated, like a record skipping. Beginners might just have to be packing some serious Dramamine, 'cause the seas are mighty mean in Pigment Vehicle Land.

In the end, I hadn't recognized a damned thing, though, except "Fully Grown," from their second CD, Independent Women are So Damned Good. I was screaming and praying for "F.P.P.C.S.," but they didn't bloody play it. Oh well, 'twas but a blemish on the face of fury. When the dust had cleared, the only thing that could match the force of Pigment Vehicle was the power of my headache.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on July 27, 1997

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