Gad – Rochester – Milestones, NY – 2003-05-08

Where: Rochester – Milestones, NY.

When: 2003-05-08

I’ve been to a lot of shows, and never once have I had the need for ear plugs. Until last night, that is. I don’t have ear plugs, but luckily I was sufficiently warned about Jucifer’s live show that I came prepared with tissues to wad up and block some of the sound that was going to be coming my way this night.

But first, Gad had to play. Milestones is a nice little club with a good sized stage and plenty of floor room, not to mention good beer, so watching any opening act wouldn’t be too much of a chore. And since I work with the bass player from Gad, I can’t say anything too bad about this local band. But they were a hodge-podge of people playing a hodge-podge of music. There were little bits of the Boredoms, the Cramps, Fishbone, and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. There were songs about fucking the female singer’s boyfriend’s corpse in hell, about love and hate, about spiders and all sorts of other off-kilter things, not to mention a few oddly chosen covers. We got the impression that Gad doesn’t practice together very often, that they were just a band that plays around to have fun, and I’m all for having fun. However, their show would have been infinitely better if they had a little more enthusiasm; jumping around and getting into the music would have helped. And playing about five fewer songs would be nice. They played longer than the main band, after all.

And the main band was the boyfriend/girlfriend duo of Jucifer, featuring Amber Valentine on vocals and guitar and Ed Livengood on drums. The stage was set up with a half-circle of amps, piled floor to ceiling and lining the back of the stage. We knew it was going to be loud. They advertised the show as being loud; it’s their reputation. On album, however, the band’s brand of heavy rock, sultry garage rock, and a few other related genres possessed melody and a groove. Live, the main feature was noise.

This band had more sound than any band I’ve ever seen. Starting from the very opening, with Valentine playing chords in the dark only to blast the sound into the avid crowd. From the opening … well, notes would be too strong a word, perhaps “blast” would be better … Jucifer made it quite clear this wasn’t going to be an easy experience. As the band blasted through about 40 minutes of noise and rock, the soundwaves from the amps made the ceiling fan above the stage turn, made Valentine’s hair blow (sexily) across her face, and made it feel like my internal organs were put in a blender and set on puree and my fillings were vibrating loose.

Now that may sound unpleasant, and it probably would have been without some (minor) type of ear plug. But while their album isn’t as loud and powerful as the band’s live show, the live show is a definite experience. It’s true that the sheer volume drowned out any real sense of melody and at times overpowered the singer’s vocals, but that’s not really important. What is important is how each strum of the guitar sent blasts of reverbed sound blasting through us, and how the drummer writhed in his folding chair, beating the drums as hard as possible, even continuing to crash at the high-hat when he knocked it over, at times lying on the floor during Valentine’s noisy solos.

Jucifer may not be the beast live band you’ve ever heard, but they are almost certainly the loudest. I’ve heard comparisons to the Melvins (and Jucifer toured with that seminal band), but I doubt even the Melvins’ crazy live show could compare. This band was just loud. I wonder how they have any hearing left, playing before that much sound every night. But I have to admire them for it. You have to go into a Jucifer live show knowing what to expect, and once you get used to the sheer power of the noise, it’s an incredible show. Definitely one I’d highly recommend, but bring something to use as ear plugs.