Friday, October 25, 2002

Hold Thy Tongue
Mom, Dad, Queen, Country, and Power Trios—I pledge allegiance to them all. I saw a fine example of the latter last night at the Silvertone Tavern.

Removal don’t just play their songs. They also put on a show, which I appreciate. They take being an instrumental trio seriously. This means they have no vocal mikes whatsoever. They’ve got slides (who doesn’t like a slide show?), they’ve got samples to dress up their material and provide segues between tunes. The slides let them communicate the equivalent of “How you all doing tonight?” in text form—hey, closed captioning!—and allow for the display of interesting backdrops. I wonder how we’re supposed to interpret the images. Is this song about crashed cars? Is this song about flowers? Is this song about a little kid holding gun to his head? I don’t think Removal are that literal. Their songs seem to be simply about rocking hard. It’s not like a Neurosis show, where the A/V element prods us into contemplating our animal origins and the basic human need for ritual, scaring the crap out of us in the process.

Removal run a tight ship. I don’t think we got an opportunity to clap until the fourth song. The rest of the set was a mixture of rock fury delectation and “how do they do that?” bafflement. Their drummer appeared to be the busiest of the trio, triggering samples and changing slides, often in mid-song. He smiled through the whole show, so being in Removal is apparently a lot of fun. The last number before the encore was The Winter Group’s “Frankenstein.” They pulled it off well despite the lack of sax and, most sadly, cowbell. They did that song the last time I saw them, so I suppose it’s their signature piece-cum-favourite party trick.

I’ve attended a number of excellent instrumental rock shows over the years, many of which have left me with an appropriate loss for words—Don Caballero, Saul Duck, The Dirty Three, Projekct Four. I think I’ll add Removal to the list.

PS: I forgot to mention the sample that introduced the show—Pat Benatar, a cappella and classic! "We're running with the shadows of the night..." Nice touch.

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