Atop the terrace of Berlin’s finest former smack clinic, talk turned to fat beats and Dorf’s esteemed editor pulled a sour face. There was thunder in the air. Abe Vigoda , named after an octagenarian character actor, dispelled the clouds with odd skeletal four note riffs that recalled Afro pop before spinning on a dime into sweaty slash chord punk funk and shouty chorus pedal pop.
This was the sound of The Smell. A much loved concrete bunker in L.A, an all ages venue that continues to nurture and inspire the talents of the aforementioned along with Mika Miko, No Age, Health and tonight’s headliners, The Mai Shi.
The Shi, probably best known for the goodtime anthem “Run to your Grave”, are a far gnarlier proposition live than their primary coloured poptastic presence on youtube might suggest.
The Shi were supertight despite a laptop being hastily substituted for a dysfunctional keyboard. The stage was unable to contain their energy as they swapped positions and jumped about with the crowd. At one they left en masse for the back of the room, returning with a chant of ‘We always get what we want”. The guitarist attempted to hop a beer crate into the centre of the crowd. By the third number they had deployed a parachute across the venue, its name was Bob.
Sing a long stage antics aside, the Shi’s pop instincts are spot on, veering chaotically between stop start SoCal punk and accapella chant. High energy Reaggaeton rythms colliding with math riffs (the outfit cut its teeth on live performances of John Zorn’s “strategy game piece” – which gives an idea of both their chops and energy). The Shi’s sound is unique but its antecedents might be found in Animal Collectives sublimation of the Beach Boys and Deerhoof”s nervous polyrythms.www.myspace.com/themaeshi