(Totally pro shot by Jennifer Maerz)
July 3, 2007
Better Than: Getting stoned in your basement with a bunch of techie music freaks
Great effort was put into coming up with Raccoo-oo-oon’s name. You can tell. I mean, they could’ve been satisfied with Raccoon. Or Badger. Or some other woodland creature spelled with the correct amount of vowels. But nah, these Schenectady, NY experimentalists dragged out those o’s, presumably to alert music connoisseurs that there’s nothing condensed about this band. It’s all about letting the o’s loose – along with letting loose the feedback, the percussion, and the release-me-from-this-acid-trip howls. At the Hemlock last night, this complete unraveling of everything your typical band keeps tight into a cozy nest of rhythmic psychedelia was a wonderful thing.
The pre-holiday crowd packed the bar, with boozers playing pool and yakking it up over the rock ‘n’ roll PA. But inside the show room the space belonged to Raccoo-oo-oon and just 50 or so curious fans. With the dim lighting reduced to a couple white bulbs glowing from the ground, the quartet took us into their fractured world, messing around on two drum kits and various guitars, voice-tweakers, instrument scramblers, and synthesizers. They used the arsenal to erect fuzzy walls of sound, space drones that repeated in unusually beautiful patterns. The overall effect put the music geeks in a trance – dudes craned their necks to try and isolate the source of one whirring buzz from another while others nodded to the beats while the meat inside their noggins laid in transport to planet freak-jam. There were moments of pure cacophony – drums and guitars and vocals all clamoring on top of one other for a minute or two of sheer saturation – but then the reward at the peak of the track would arise, and the sounds would settle into calming, nearly spiritual krautrock.
Raccoo-oo-oon isn’t for everyone’s ears, I realize. My friend sipped his whiskey quietly, commenting that that this sorta free form, primordial ooze didn’t do it for his hook-craving tastes. But since I no longer smoke weed, bands like this one fix my need for tuning in, turning on, and making my head feel uncomfortably sticky.
Random Detail: I much preferred Raccoo-oo-oon to the opening act, San Francisco’s Death Sentence Panda. That band’s herky-jerky art rock was a bit too much for these ears -- the female shrieking, the tantrums of random instrumentation, and mostly, the sheer volume of making ridiculous noise, drove me out of the room for their set. But sitting at the bar outside the show room, I still could hear the trio – it sounded like a skyscraper demolition in that room. --Jennifer Maerz