When: Thu., June 4, 9 p.m. 2015
TO LIVE AND SHAVE IN L.A.
THURSDAY, JUNE 4
NIGHTLIGHT, CHAPEL HILL—To Live and Shave in L.A. stands as one of experimental music's most vital and perplexing institutions, alongside Merzbow, Sun City Girls and Whitehouse in terms of influence. But excepting a January warm-up in Atlanta, their current 13-date tour that celebrates the band's 25th anniversary represents the outfit's first live shows in seven years. The Shave coughed up an album or two and added 70-plus archival titles to their Bandcamp trove in the interim, but they largely remained dormant, with cofounders Tom Smith and Frank "Rat Bastard" Falestra diverting their energies to solo projects.
Anniversary tours almost always indulge nostalgia: Iconic bands reunite to perform classic material from beginning to end, a decade or quarter-century after its release. While To Live and Shave in L.A. possess a legacy worthy of celebration, their unique operating system doesn't allow for much nostalgia. Smith and Falestra are the group's only constants, and they maintain a large and somewhat nebulous pool of collaborators, everything from avant-garde musicians and multi-media artists to transgressive weirdos and temperamental exhibitionists. They piece together an ensemble whenever it's time to record or play a show. The unpredictability constantly forces the Shave to reinvent their music.
This is especially true of the 25th anniversary tour. Outside of the New York City performance, the trek relies on very few older collaborators. Rather, Smith and Falestra have tapped Graham Moore and Patrick Spurlock, two initiates whose involvement reaches back less than a decade. If Unwept to Meet Strange Clay, a CD-R document of that recent Atlanta gig, is any indication, the new musicians' backgrounds in post-industrial squall and harsh noise have inspired Smith and Falestra to dive headfirst into a fusion of actionist muscularity and improvised electronics. The pair has traditionally maintained a link, however tenuous and mangled, to American noise-rock, but this lineup has severed that tie once and for all.
Still, you can never be sure what the Shave will unleash until they hit the stage. If there's one thing Smith and Falestra enjoy more than the subversion of their audience's expectations, it's the subversion of their own. With Holly Hunt and Clang Quartet. 9 p.m., $7–$9, 405 1/2 West Rosemary St., Chapel Hill, 919-960-6101, www.nightlightclub.com. —Justin Farrar