This month, enjoy the versatility of the quintessential instrument of rebellion in concert!
Remember when Bob Dylan picked up an electric guitar in the 1960s? Well, neither do I. However, it’s well documented as one of the major incidences in music that caused an uproar and divided his fanbase for good. On the one side, you had rock ’n’ roll lovers welcoming Dylan’s new amplified approach, and devastated folk purists on the other. The folk corset simply didn’t fit Dylan anymore, and so he decided to rebel. From the earliest rock ’n’ roll to the 1970s punk era to post-punk and industrial music, the guitar’s history as a means to revolt – or, at least, to disturb common listening habits – is long and varied. British noise rockers The Telescopes might fall into the latter category. Influenced by the likes of The Velvet Underground, they’ve been around since the late 1980s. They’ve always had a knack for catchy tunes but were always a little too, well, noisy to be fully appreciated by mainstream audiences.
Let’s be honest though, despite the instrument’s suitability for revolt, it has also had a pretty bad rep for being nothing more than a penis extension and a bonfire killer. Particularly throughout the 1980s and 90s, power ballads played by long-haired spandex-suit wearing dudes come to mind, as well as god-awful solos by lead guitarists such as Slash, who’s taking the stage at Verti Music Hall this month, or Keith Richards or Santana. In that man’s world, female lead guitarists like Jennifer Batten had to be twice as flamboyant to garner the same accolades. Is Chicks on Speed’s mantra “We Don’t Play Guitars” the perfect workaround for dudes? Of course not. From shoegaze to dreampop to dark wave, there have always been plenty of options to not look like a douche on stage and provide an appropriate antidote for the Britpop epidemic or the most recent wave of testosterone-fuelled guitar acts from the early noughties, the infamous “The” band invasion from The Strokes to The Hives. Someone like Drangsal would’ve been a great addition back in the day, too. On his second album Zores, he might have taken a pop-ier approach than on his first album, yet his guitar influences are still prominently bordering The Smiths territory. Also drawing from the more exquisite music legends on guitar this month: Lillie West, aka Lala Lala, and her echoing and dream-y post-punk tunes. She’ll play songs o her sophomore album The Lamb.
Despite the rise of electronic music from indietronic to EDM, guitars never really left the regular stage setup, and why should they? Even if you don’t know how to play them – as Throbbing Gristle once claimed– you can still have a maximum impact. And if you go experimental, the chances of falling into the trap of a hideous solo are dwindling rather quickly anyway. Of course, March has its dose of guitar-infused experimental music, too: Xiu Xiu are back with Girl With Basket of Fruit, which should turn out to be a challenge even for the most hard- core of Xiu Xiu fans. But then again, it has always been difficult to anticipate what Jamie Stewart and co. will come up with next: mellow ambient or mind-boggling aggressiveness. Health are another case of border-lining pop accessibility and full-on noise. Their latest album Vol. 4 :: Slaves of Fear sees them embracing a more melodic approach wrapped in a rather sinister metal guise. So, which guitar heroes are you going to drool over this month?
Health Mar 2, 20:00 SO36, Kreuzberg | Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators Mar 4, 20:00 Verti Music Hall, Friedrichshain | Lala Lala Mar 5, 20:00 Monarch, Kreuzberg | Drangsal Mar 9, 20:00 Huxley’s Neue Welt, Neukölln | Xiu Xiu Mar 13, 20:30 Kantine am Berghain, Friedrichshain | The Telescopes Mar 19, 20:30 Urban Spree, Friedrichshain