Friday at the House of Rock was of few words. There wasn’t much in the way of stage banter, The Ronald Raygun set was lyrically sparse (fewer of these were clearly decipherable) and Collections of Colonies of Bees featured no vocals at all. But despite the lack of words there was plenty being said. When it came to the music volumes were being spoken – shouted, actually – and we the audience were all too eager to listen.

Ben Hinz led The Ronald Raygun in a set of devastating force, shattering the grout between the floor tiles (I’m pretty sure they knocked one of my fillings loose) with their unique blend of metal and trip hop. One of the tricks they’ve perfected in their stint as a band is starting with a down tempo groove and patiently adding layers of lacerating noise until they’ve built it up to a skin-shredding climax. And when they reach this peak volume you’d better be ready for a jackhammer to the ribcage.

Milwaukee’s Collections of Colonies of Bees closed the show, touring in support of their latest album Giving, released in the summer. Despite the absence of virtuoso drummer and founding member Jon Mueller, the band was in peak form. Guitarist (and other founding member) Chris Rosenau, dressed in black and center stage, appeared catatonic with ecstasy. Their set was a sonic laboratory of jolting polyrhythm and endlessly interlocking patterns, synthesizing a musical compound of rare potency and extreme delight. They closed the evening with “Lawn” (the first track off of Giving) and bade good evening to a very satisfied crowd.

-Caleb Price, December 2011

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Photographs by Zachary Oliphant