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Califone & Bloodiest played the IL Centennial Monument (pics, setlist), and Empty Bottle

words by Parker Langvardt, photos by Grant MacAllister


Chicago bands Califone, and Bloodiest played a free show in front of Logan Square’s Illinois Centennial Monument on June 26th, sponsored by the Empty Bottle (where they played together later that night).

At first it is an unlikely pairing, but considering Bloodiest plays the kind of metal that sounds like it crawled out of a swamp, and Califone’s bluesy experimental indie rock could easily have been written by the catfish angler…who witnessed the creature emerging.

Bloodiest had driven 13 hours through the night from New York City, where they played Brooklyn’s Union Pool on Saturday. They began by tremolo-picking their guitars atmospherically over slow, pounding drumming on “Fallen,” the opening track of their recently released LP, Descent. Vocalist; Bruce Lamont began with nearly spoken vocals, building intensity with the rest of the song while remaining seated on a drum throne. On his extended notes, he rubbed his throat to produce a vibrato sound to match the guitars.

Continuing through Descent, they played the droning, vaguely western “Coh,” on which Lamont does some eerie, wordless vibrato into a reverbed-out harmonica mic. One guitarist spent most of the song scratching his strings with a pick, creating a strange ambiance. “Coh” blended into “Pastures,” with the vocals becoming more operatic and the drums entering with a tribal tom rhythm. A man in a white shirt with embroidered roses and matching white pants walked up the stairs and began dancing in a Spanish manner in front of the band, which became strangely more appropriate as the cymbal crashes fell into a new accent pattern.

Lamont announced that Califone, and Bloodiest would be playing later that night at the Empty Bottle, commenting, “Double your pleasure. Double your fun.” After processing what he had said, he added, “that was bad,” with bassist; Ben Clarke nodding in agreement. “Dead Inside” began with a triplet-feel on the drums, with the snares turned off to produce a sound like a tom, though sharper. Lamont stood up for the first time as he yelled, “Bite your lip, bite your lip you fucking masochist!” The synthesizer, played by Nandini Khaund, had a xylophone sound straight out of the Twilight Zone, and the hi-hat cymbal was so far open it flopped around, sizzling.

Khaund and Clarke laughed as a young girl repeatedly wandered within a few feet of the band before being dragged back by her mother, seemingly mesmerized by the doom, but hopefully she won’t be “Dead Inside” for at least another 20 years. The dirty, chorused guitar and vocal effect on “Slave Rule” gave it a vibe similar to “Planet Caravan” by Black Sabbath before it built to one of the heavier moments of the performance. “Obituary” fell back into the tremolo picking that opened the performance, with piano chords backing it.

Califone’s eclectic performance began with “Salt,” a flowing bluegrass song that allowed singer; Tim Rutili to have some fun with his acoustic guitar while the banjoist finger-picked away straight through the song. Rutili followed by lamenting, “All my friends are funeral singers,” over sad chords. All My Friends Are Funeral Singers is the title of Califone’s 2010 LP, and film.

They picked the mood up with “The Orchids,” which sounded similar to the style of Modest Mouse. Rutili collaborated with his former Red Red Meat band mate; Brian Deck and Modest Mouse front man; Isaac Brock on Ugly Cassanova‘s 1998 album Sharpen Your Teeth. Rather than using the strange compressed sounds heard on the recording of “Giving Away the Bride,” drummer; Joe Adamik played a heavy beat consisting of bass drum, maraca, and snare. The electric guitar had a super-heavy, nearly tangible distortion on par with the tones of Bloodiest, and percussionist Ben Massarella created syncopation by falling on and off the beat with a floor tom, snare drum, and huge handcrafted cowbells.

With Rutili’s vocals, “Giving Away the Bride” would fit in on an album with Nirvana‘s last single “You Know You’re Right.” “Electric Fence” began with droning western chords that had a clean, beautiful shimmer reminiscent of Earth‘s album The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull. The calmer verses made way for Mogwai-like textures and sounds generated by electric drum pads and a synthesizer. Later in the set they performed “Heron King Blues,” which is about a recurring dream character that Rutili suspects to be a Druid god.

A set of pictures like the one above; continue below (with setlists)..


Bloodiest – IL Centennial Monument 6/26 Setlist:
Dead Inside
Slave Rule

Califone – IL Centennial Monument 6/26 Setlist:
Funeral Singers
The Orchids
Giving Away the Bride
Electric Fence
Tayzee Nub
Polish Girls
Heron King Blues
3 Legged Animals
New Song?
Pastry Sharp

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