Scenes From Saturday's Silver Saint Guitar Army Show At Double Wide.
When we spoke to a few temporary members of The Silver Saint Guitar Army in the hours between their first ever practice and their debut performance at Double Wide this Saturday, we learned that three of the band's members weren't going to show up. And while that news would have been devastating to most every band in the region — Polyphonic Spree, you're exempt — it didn't faze The Silver Saint all that much.
That much shouldn't come as too much of a shock. When a band packs 12 guitarists and a drummer into a room the size of Double Wide's venue space, what's three more, really? As it were, the Wanz Dover-led dozen-guitar assault was just as much a spectacle to the ears as it was the eyes.
Due to both space and volume concerns, Dover's temporary plus-sized backing outfit was relying on an array of various-sized practice amps. Meaning? It was nearly impossible to tell who was playing what or to pick the furiously strummed bits played by the clump of musicians on the left side of the stage from the pluckier stuff the guys huddled on the floor were doing.
But that, too, was by design.
The four-song, 30-minute set was far more structured from what we anticipated heading into the performance. Each of Dover's vaguely new wave-ish compositions had four distinct parts performed by three guitars each, though, from what we gathered, each guitarist's choice of volume and tone were, for the most part, left up to them.
Still, there's something unique — and admittedly difficult to describe — that happens when 12 guitarists get together and attempt, for the most part, to play together. We'd say it was something akin to a more melodic, distorted version of a drum circle if the phrase “drum circle” didn't already carry such a highly specific set of negative connotations with it. Because, really, what went down during The Silver Saint's set was much more compelling than that any way.
At its best moments, Saturday night's set was a compelling mass of swirling, binaural magic. At its worst, the unique experience of witnessing a dozen guitarists go off the rails at the same time was still highly interesting to watch.
Interesting, too, was the set by hard-edged, jazz-rooted trio Unconscious Collective that followed. For the group's first number, the trio was joined by legendary Decoding Society violinist Leonard Hayward, and, from there, the loincloth clad faux tribesmen's set only got noisier, its drums more visceral, and its playing more in lockstep. It was a shame, then, that, by the time the most carnal and musically impressive set we've seen a local band turn in all year was finished, only a handful of people remained in the venue.
Perhaps competition from Art Conspiracy played a part in the somewhat lower turnout. And, hey, we get it: Unconscious Collective's somewhat challenging output probably isn't for everybody.
Even still, it does seem like, too often, the most musically interesting events in town are, generally speaking, some of the most under-attended.