Wolf Eyes is noise, to be sure. But it's a beautiful and hazardous noise. For nearly a decade now, this rotating cast of Detroit-bred electronic wizards has been adding to the nation's vinyl tally through countless numbers of small-run releases, appearing on innumerable cassettes, compilations and singles, finally landing a deal with Sub Pop records and releasing their 2004 album Burned Mind.
The original "lineup" of just Nate Young has morphed through the years, introducing and then excusing members and even briefly relocating to New York. Aaron Dilloway, though now relocated himself, remains a satellite collaborator, but the current lineup features Young, longtime member John Olson and now Mike Connelly of the equally deafening Hair Police. It's been a match made in hell the three noisemakers making as much of a pop and art statement as anything else.
"I'll evoke Andrew Loog Oldham's spin early on in the Rolling Stones' career," says Andy Kotowitz, who works with the band at Sub Pop. (The band is notoriously hesitant to be interviewed.) "Specifically the 'would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?' hubbub. Well, would you let your daughter marry a Wolf Eye? Perhaps it's not so much 'pop' as 'anti-pop.' They play noise with the theatricality of a rock band. More Kiss than Kraftwerk. More Cooper than Cage."
What Wolf Eyes does is noise, and it is electronically based, but it's also rock music at its most visceral. Their live shows are legendary, caustic sermons of turbulence and venom that would scare off the most undiscerning of hardcore kids with wild abandon. And it's not just the sound or the volume, but the energy with which they perform it. They freak out. Not a bunch of pretentious lads triggering samples on laptops, no this is a full-on rock performance. Young was even reportedly shuffled off to a hospital after hitting himself in the face with a microphone at a show in 2004. Their place amongst experimental peers such as Smegma and Nurse With Wound is cemented, but Wolf Eyes explores completely different and decidedly more rockist territory.
It is the sound of a baby crying in your ear on an airplane or a loose bottle cap getting caught in the spinning blades of your garbage disposal. It is not artful, but it is definitely from the heart. Some people want their music to calm them down and some want it to pump them up; Wolf Eyes make music for people who want their music to throw acid in their faces.
8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2