Black Midi opened for themselves as the Orange Tree Boys, then besieged Levitation in Subversive Music: British prog / jazz / post-punk iconoclasts break the mold in an entertaining way – Music

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Geordie Greep, Morgan Simpson and Kaidi Akinnibi of Black Midi besieging Mohawk for Levitation 2021. (Photo by John Anderson)

Author Jim DeRogatis, in his classic book Turn off your mind, called psychedelia “the music that takes you to another place”. He explained in writing that “making psychedelic art means rejecting rules, breaking boundaries and opening doors whenever possible”.

These are themes that Levitation has taken to heart in recent years, looking beyond the boundaries of commonly accepted psychedelic traps (some might say clichés) to performers with limbs ripping the envelopes they’ve been crammed into. In that sense, Black Midi is the perfect band to represent Levitation 2021. Conglomerating elements of progressive rock, jazz, post-punk and the weird worlds of iconoclasts like Pere Ubu and Captain Beefheart, the London band almost casually breaks all the molds we could try. to apply themselves to it.

Noon black at Mohawk for levitation. (Photo by John Anderson)

After the PA introduced the group as if they were a boxing champion, Black Midi took the stage in a suit and tie (at least singers Geordie Greep and Cameron Picton) and exploded in “953” , the first track from his debut album. Schlagenheim. Like most sets, the song is made up of harsh angles and conflicting harmonics, with the free jazz saxophone making its way through a vision of post-punk like speed metal, foamed by the down-to-earth baritone of Greep. The Mohawk floor exploded into a plunging mosh pit pogo on stage, which forced the guitarist to declare “fuck that shit out of you” before the song ended.

Even with fans unfamiliar with much of the material and the changes made on the fly, it has become difficult to tell where one song ends and another begins, especially as many of their tracks change from one song to the next. position as porn actors under meth.

That turned out to be the only sour note, however, at least from a behavioral standpoint. Tearing up a 14-track setlist composed mostly of unreleased songs, the Midis were relentless in their quest for a controlled anarchy. Even with fans unfamiliar with much of the material and the changes made on the fly, it has become difficult to tell where one song ends and another begins, especially since many of their tracks change from one song to the next. position as porn actors under meth. Even audience favorites and the second album highlight the “John L” and “Slow” sounds made up of sections that shouldn’t work together but work, like puzzle pieces stuck by a child. As Picton delivered his tunes with a heartfelt yawn, Greep intoned his words as if he was letting the voices in his head play, making it impossible to wrest your attention from him.

“Fuck you with that shit,” Greep said of the Mohawk mobs and mothers. (Photo by John Anderson)

Black Midi couldn’t do what he does without a high level of musicality, yet everything he plays subverts the notion of musical virtuosity. Thanks to saxophonist Kaidi Akinnibi and drummer Morgan Simpson, there might be a jazz combo under the skronk screaming out, but committing to just one genre per song clearly goes against the group. It is often felt these days that it is extremely difficult to find young weapons that are bold enough to launch rock in the future. But with its ability to sound like a score by Max Stalling translated into rock music, Black Midi finds a way to translate a very special, special and personal form of self-expression into something with the potential for mass success, and does vibrate the fuck outside while doing it.

Oddly, the group opened their own show as their blues rock alter ego, the Orange Tree Boys “of Las Vegas, Nevada”. (Kudos to Greep’s one-off American accent.) Beefheart’s influence comes through more openly with boys, as the first two songs skillfully skewer clichés of the genre. The “band” concluded their three-song set with a surprisingly faithful cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” – which they claimed to have written, of course. A smart choice, ending the shtick before it gets stale. While this is clearly an inside joke, the OTB has presented itself as ironically without irony. Or is it ironically ironic?

Setlist:

953 – Schlagenheim
Speedway – Schlagenheim
Welcome to Hell – unreleased song
Destroyed – Cavalcade
Sugar / Tzu – unreleased song
Defense – unreleased song
Faster – unreleased song
Lumps – unreleased song
Still – unreleased song
Trouble at Ram Ranch – unreleased song
Patellar chondromalacia – Cavalcade
John L – Cavalcade
27 Q – unreleased song
Slow – Cavalcade


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