Coasting into Lawrence in a big white majestic van, AIDS Wolf delivered everything you would expect at the Replay Lounge last night: dissonance, moaning, yelling, screech-infused guitar slides, a hero's dose of snare-blasts. The inaccessibility of their set suggests such a sonic hazard would make for an empty show, but even for a Tuesday, the Replay Lounge was modestly stocked with those who want, no, need, some obvious chaos in a world so unobviously chaotic. Folks from Kansas City proper made appearances— dudes from rough neighborhoods braved rough highways just to see these Canadians, these Quebecois. A man who no one knows from a place no one lives danced like he was in a Beyonce video.
Rewind some minutes. There were two opening bands, one in tow with AIDS Wolf; another, the opener-opener, who no one reliable could identify, emoted over an acoustic guitar in a fashion not seen since this reviewer's own teenage Neil Young cover band debacle. (Ed. note: It was Folkicide.) Emotive guitar guy was only kindling for what would soon combust.
Henry and Hazel Slaughter is quite good. I say is and not are because Henry and Hazel Slaughter is actually one guy, John Olson from Wolf Eyes, the noise guru and founder of the American Tapes label, who last night essentially channeled many of the maniac impulses of Wolf Eyes into a cleaner and more modest noisescape. Imagine a mall cop, statuesque in front of what appears to be a drum machine perched on top of a shoebox amp, staring at you (and only you) through shades so uncool as to be aloof and intimidating. This staring lasts for about forty five minutes — it all seems like the hypnotic dream you have while dozing off in some alien cranio-surgical theater. Odd time-signatured drum beats are the foundation for even time-signatured riffs; mall cop's boot presses on some kind of wah-wah pedal (much in the way mall cops' boots press on necks) to vacillate the spaceman quality of the riffs, which dance in and out of meatiness and intelligibility. Something lives and dies by every ankle-gesture; hips in the crowd pump. The man's collared shirt's lapel reads DISORDER. He wears a studded belt and pants your dad wears.
Without much fuss, AIDS Wolf set up and set fire to the silence of the bar. At their best, AIDS Wolf sounds more like an out-of-tune garbage truck falling from the sky than a band, and Tuesday night's damaged, and damaging, set at the Replay was not even close to an exception — what did you want, indie-folk? Did you want some kind of avant-pop harmony bullshit? Well, you'll get Chloe Lum's howling like Linda Blair outside the space-lock; you'll get Yannick Desranleau's autistic bashings killing what few eardrum-cells you have left. Put these parts over (not under) Alexander Moskos's dissonant and frankly weird guitar parts and you have what makes for the stew of AIDS Wolf, which might kill you if you aren't sturdy, which might melt you if you aren't solid.
Name a drawback: OK, well, sure: This is their last tour. Last tour, or "last tour", you ask? Well, probably both. According to Lum, there isn't only an economic recession, but a "noise recession," that makes touring as extensively as AIDS Wolf does not only untenable but unrewarding in the ways that it ought to be. Her physical meanderings in the crowd aside, her swaying among the swaying notwithstanding, Lum and company are pure sound, disembodied — pure noise, pure fun — not only for the daggers they stab into the necks of the quiet, but for the dissonance they curate from silence.