Sightings are one of the most abrasive bands I have ever heard. Fans of Neubauten, Swans, or Can should give them a listen. As a long time listener I was convinced that they used midi and sequencing. After seeing them live I can tell you they are a bass, drums, and guitar trio influenced by techno and electronic music but sticking with the classic rock trio format. The sonic terrain they cover with this line-up is impressive. The group is loud! It is not often the drums get lost in a mix at a medium sized venue. Much of what sounds like computer generated sound is the interplay between intricate bass fingering and quick stick work on two 80’s drum pads putting out glitchy synthesizer percussion.
Spending a few minutes with Sightings before the show. Here’s some of what they had to say…
Q: What is your song writing process like?
Mark (Guitar): We just bash away and sculpt something out of the horrible hours and hours of jamming.
Q: What were your early impressions of Kraut rock?
Mark: I remember in 93, 94 I was at a record store in Detroit. It was when Faust 4 got re-issued on CD and all those NEU! Bootlegs, I took them home and was just totally blown away.
Richard (bass): Definitely the totally blown out sound on Kollaps (Neubauten) was something I was interested in when we started this band, Just the complete sound of mayhem, you know.
Mark: Is this for the German audience? Are you pandering? We love German music!
Q: What do you think of Occupy Wall Street?
Jon (Drums): In The United States the right wing has a very loud and vocal expression, I think it’s important to criticize a lot of what’s directed towards improving the conditions of the very rich. The middle class has been suffering for decades. I like that thats being said, I also don’t know where it will go. But I think they have a valid point.
Richard: It’s just good there’s someone on the left train to say something. It’s not really about the concept of capitalism, it’s about what everyone chooses to do from moment to moment, including the people occupying wall street.
Mark: You sound like a Libertarian right now!
Jon: All those people buy products that support huge corporations everyday, they’re not talking about that, they’re talking about big ideals.
Mark: They want their Mac Book Airs but they’re against corporate greed. There is kind of a disconnect going on.
Q: How do you feel about using midi on stage?
Mark: Midi?, I don’t know what that is.
Jon: I have this electronic drum brain from the 80’s, it has this sort of synthesizer electronic sound. When we started it was just bass drums and guitar. The electronic sound came in for a lot of different reasons. Theres no sequencing theres no sampling. It’s a hybrid kit so I can still play like a drummer but produce a wider range of sounds, it gives me a wider palette.
Richard: Lately I have been using less effects because these guys use so much, its better for me to play a bit cleaner and cut through more. I think it’s nice if we can trade rolls, some one else is percussion and someone else is a drone instrument, so were switching roles. But, it’s essentially bass drums and guitar.
Q: What do you think of techno music?
Mark: I think it’s had a pretty big effect on us musically, I don’t know how apparent that is. It’s amazing to me it seems like in NY all the forces are there for a giant techno scene but in the US they still want to listen to Steve Miller and shit. I mean Steve Miller is cool, but it’s not the future.
Richard: Is techno the future?
Mark: Probably not, slightly more the future than Steve Miller though.
Dustin Wong played before Sightings. His set was a mesmerizing display of virtuosic guitar wizardry. Really beautiful work, like Don Cab meets The Who. It’s hard to entertain a crowd with a 30 minute guitar solo and make it seem authentic. Dustin is able to make the listener forget about the past twenty years and listen without jaded cynicism.
Silver Apples suffered from poor sound quality not due to the excellent staff at Marie-Antoinette but instead to equipment issues.. Much of the performance was from an iPod and the analogue oscillators he was using did not seem to merge sonically with the MP3 quality being piped through the sound system. There were however, a large crowd of knowledgable and appreciative electronic music fans in attendance. Over all this was a show for the die hard experimental electronic crowd. Challenging and twisted, like being drugged with antidepressants. I have no complaints, but it gave me bad dreams.