The Insane Luchadors :: 01.01.06 :: The Knitting Factory :: New York, NY
After being rocked to my core by the Black Crowes on NYE, even I was vaguely surprised when I poured out of a cab around 10:30 on New Year's Day. Déjà vu slapped me as I recalled being (out of it) in front of the same venue on Friday night. I knew I should be sleeping, healing up from my excesses, but the music called and I am a very weak man when that siren beckons. A first time, and possibly last meeting of four jam all-stars isn't to be lightly missed, especially when the self-proclaimed supergroup consists of Marc Brownstein (bass, Disco Biscuits), Jamie Shields (keyboardist, The New Deal), Joe Russo (drum powerhouse in the Benevento/Russo Duo), and Scott Metzger (guitarist, RANA). Calling themselves The Insane Luchadors, this configuration promised rock-inflected trance to kick start 2006.
Marc Brownstein by John Smrtic
The sweltering heat of the capacity crowd hit me as I entered. Glasses steamed up and all I could do was listen, absorb, and wait until my vision came clear again. A Caribbean wind curled around my ear, and instinctively I veered towards the bar to order rum. Peeking through the fog, I sipped sugared heat, nostrils flaring from both the booze and the thick music. Metzger jabbed and slashed at the island techno, recalling Robert Fripp with the Orb or Steve Hillage in System 7. Finally able to see again, I was a bit disappointed they weren't shirtless and wearing capes and Mexican wrestler masks a la Santos, but you can't have everything.
Without pausing, they curved into Latinismo that suggested Weather Report if they drank more electric Kool-Aid. In fact, Shields frequently brought to mind a modern Joe Zawinul – less constrained by a '50s upbringing and armed with the dizzy possibilities of contemporary keyboards and samplers. Brownstein, looking stylish in an urban tracksuit and snazzy hat, provided thick jungle cables for the others to swing on. As in the Biscuits, he was omnipresent but in a way that melded well with Russo's authoritative drumming.
Jamie Shields by John Smrtic
Watching their faces, it was evident these boys know they're good. They are the modern equivalent of Pete Cosey sitting in with Joe Chambers, Ron Carter, and Chick Corea – dark forces and light invoked with skill and freewheeling drive. Yes, it was often amorphous. Yes, the patches of melody came and went without much logic. But the emotional core, especially Metzger's parts, was sound. Like the first Santa Cruz Hemp Allstars shows, one senses the potential and is willing to let them wander. Chilled out downtempo, spy music, electro fuzz, gentle dub, breakbeats, full bore space rock, "that Bisco shit" (as one loaded RANA fan shouted from the rear), and the other flavors already mentioned were explored. Like a DJ working from an unfamiliar crate of vinyl, there were stutter stops, but more often than not, they found the pocket. If you were patient, the music always found interesting vistas in time. The Insane Luchadors provided inspiration to finish up any leftover bindles before the Monday-through-Friday world returned. As their own ad copy announced, "come out and defiantly drive your hangover from the merely egregious into the realm of the truly legendary, all to the sounds of one of the baddest-ass improvising units imaginable."
Joe Russo by Kevin Quinn
After the first set I hung outside for a bit, but my appetite had finally returned after days of nibbling for survival's sake and weariness permeated my whole body. Despite rumors of Mike Gordon and other surprise guests arriving for the next patch, I found the lure of Holiday borscht at Velseka, a 24-hour Ukrainian diner I'd discovered, more compelling. New York had been awfully good to me, the music varied and deliriously satisfying on the whole. But the demands of the flesh and the promise of deep sleep and long dreams after a big meal won out over further exploration. Home beckoned, a whisper from the Western shore drawing me away. Goodnight, big city, goodnight.
JamBase | NYC
Go See Live Music!