When I entered the Apohadion, the room was nearly dark and the stage was empty. Unidentifiable figures stood on the floor, where a large table of gadgets and synths had been set. Everyone on one side of the table seemed to lurch; two on the other side lurched in unison. This was Ancestral Diet, the male-female duo from Belfast, Maine, who layered heavily processed Casio-driven synthwalls under incantatory female vocals. If you've ever wondered what Throbbing Gristle or a Jarboe project sounded like stripped of its urban paranoia, this is it. Rural Maine paranoia is just as scary. And danceable.
When we last saw them at Geno's a few years back, Taboo (from Troy, Maine) were a three-piece that sent grimy rock riffs through a wall of high-gain distortions and disrhythmic pummel. Their frontperson Crissy, wearing black leather pants and sycophantic sneer, behaved like the spawn of a snakebit Marc Bolan and a big baby.
Things have changed. A little. Crissy has dropped the axe, added a gender-dysphoric howl to his skree, and now roams the floor freely in heels and a dress. Their first song was a hypnotic, seasick affair that sounded like Coil. Crissy actually sang. The words described some sort of sex act. The drums were spartan, even further divorced from traditional timekeeping. The bassist made sounds with several fabricated instruments (including a neckless guitar) mounted on a barbecue grill. After that, Taboo got progressively louder and noisier, blowing away the levels they reached at Geno's years ago.
This is not metal, nor is it punk; after the opening by id m theft able, it was a sound event, made by people far off the grid of those local scenes. For probably the first time in many, many months, earplugs were essential. The guitar — here played stoically by new addition Asa Irons (the Ecstatic Peace dark drone guitarist formerly of both Feathers and Witch) — dealt in modern psychedelic riffery, but all other sounds Taboo made are better described by concept or sensation rather than genre. Violent, dismissive, wincing. Microphones were hurled across the room. Chairs were thrown at people who did not want them thrown at them. It's 2011, rock music is fully grown. It does not need to act this way, yet Taboo insists that it does.