Middle East, Cambridge, Mass 04.19.00
Arab on Radar -Middle East, Cambridge, Mass 04.19.00
Rarely does a band come along where, between songs, a band member stands, legs shoulder width apart,
knees slightly bent, points both of his index fingers at the audience as if they were pistols, and proclaims
“(We) Fucked Your Ass!” and be speaking The Truth. After the show, I wondered “Why isn’t this band
the most popular band in America?” and then I quickly thought of many very good reasons. However, I’ll
Reasons Why Arab On Radar Should be the Most Popular Band In the World
- This band terrified me before they even played. Two stacks of speakers were set up on stage, a
large cabinet on bottom, a short array of smaller speakers in the middle, and another full-sized cabinet
on top. The potential volume frightened me before they even played a single note.
- They placed a hanging work light on each of the side stage monitors, facing up towards the band,
lighting up the stage with harsh white light. It looked really cool.
- Band members (two guitars, one drummer, one vocalist) were dressed identically in gray slacks,
gray long sleeve shirts, and black tennis shoes.
- Guitarist Stage Left hopped around quite insanely. He was very good at rolling his eyes back into
his head to eliminate his pupils from view. Guitarist Stage Right had on a strangely emotionless blank
face, stepped onto the club floor a several times, falling on the ground, and was lifted onto the
shoulders of the drummer from the Flying Luttenbackers and paraded around the crowd. Both guitar
players drooled profusely from time to time.
- Drummer would count off each song in a high-pitched, squawking-chicken type voice “One Two
Three Four.” Singer sang in strange, high-pitched, unintelligible, nasal voice.
- Their music, extremely angular and abrasive guitar figures with stuttered and staggered
drumming, grooved hard and good. The drummer would play nothing like a steady beat, but the band
would nonetheless groove and cause the crowd to move around, which is a hell of an accomplishment
in a room full of indie-rock statues.
Reasons Why Arab On Radar Will Never be the Most Popular Band In the World
Their music is extremely powerful and mighty and great, but so utterly crazy, rendering it un-marketable
and inaccessible to The Masses. But hey, the plus side is that this is a band where you won’t have to worry
that they’ll get huge and then the Cool Police won’t allow you to like them anymore.
Arab on Radar were stupendously great! They were abrasive and noisy and so good. Certain rules of Rock
Song structure are being followed here, the ones pertaining to structure perhaps, but other rules, the ones
about melody and such, have been completely discarded, or maybe they’ve been replaced by ideas from
galaxies far, far away. Just this different perspective on rockin’ it would be enough. But they rock it so
right, and so hard, they completely demolish the audience with their strange language of rock. If you are
not afraid to have your mind blown, you really need to see Arab On Radar.
As for opening bands...
I got to the show a little late and missed most of the opening bands. I saw part of the Flying Luttenbackers.
They were an upright string bass, a cellist, a saxophone player, and a drummer on a kit consisting of
cymbals, bongos, and electronic drum pads. They did the noisy free-jazz thing, where very interesting and
cool noises are made, but the structure of it is pretty much “Okay, now we’ll play for while while those
guys stay quiet, then they’ll play for a while and we’ll stop, then you’ll do the thing where you bow the
strings really fast and slide your hand up and down the neck, and the saxophone guy’ll move his fingers as
fast as possible and blow.” Which can be cool, for a while.
The next band was Polythene, guitar, bass, drums. They reminded me a lot of Atari Teenage Riot; there
was a female voice yelling in a European accent (short British drummer), they made a lot of noise, and they
said “fuck” a lot. Like Atari Teenage Riot, this sort of noisy anger gets kind of predictable and
uninteresting pretty quickly. The noisy was pretty much strummed guitar while sliding hand up and down
neck and stepping on distortion pedal. “Oh, look, now he’s using a vibrator as a guitar slide. How
shocking.” “Oh look, now they’re saying ‘Fuck’ a lot.” They did some neat stuff; in the middle of a
chorus, the instruments stopped, and the guitar guy and drummer girl would mutter stuff in to the
microphones simultaneously, which sounded neater than I’m describing it here. Also, about ¾ through
their set, they had a song where the drum rhythms were followed on guitar, which sounded great and was
heavy and cool in a way that a wall of guitar noise with people being angry about something or other is not.
Instruments were typically abused during their last song. Atypically, on her way off the stage, the drummer
smashed her head into the guitar while it was lying on stage.
It was really fun watching the drummer for the Flying Luttenbackers dance to Slayer which was being
played over the PA while Arab on Radar was setting up. He knew where every cymbal choke, every little
guitar thingy, every high pitched scream occurred, and he could really shake it. The two spiky horns
sculpted into his hair really added to the overall effect.
Written By: Ernie K.