by Will York

400 Blows

w/BlöödHag, Jumbo's Killcrane, Wormwood

Tues July 1, Chop Suey, 9 pm, $6.

It's a small world, ain't it? I'm typing this article in the same bedroom where L.A. minimalist hard-rockers 400 Blows tore up a sweat-drenched house party last summer, here on Haight Street in San Francisco. I didn't live here then, but I was at the show, and it was thoroughly insane, with drummer Ferdinand's cymbals getting repeatedly knocked over and vocalist Skot getting mobbed and groped by the drunken, well-beyond-capacity audience.

"We love that environment," says guitarist Christian of these sardine-packed, fire-hazard-creating shows. "When we're playing a real tight space and everyone's all sweaty and going crazy, there's an energy swirling around you and through you that's undeniable and intoxicating. But playing larger places is fun too because it sounds really good and it's more of a 'show.' Plus, there's something enthralling about looking out from the stage and seeing all these faces waiting for you to destroy them."

The Blows' particular brand of destruction relies heavily on choppy, low-end guitar riffs--amplified through a pair of huge amps, one on each side of the stage--and drummer Ferdinand's tight, athletic percussion work. Asked to describe their sound once before, I said it was like what nu metal could have been if it actually rocked and were actually any good.

"We're probably influenced by some of the same sources," Christian admits, "although we've decided to approach our influences using a slightly different tack. As much as we are influenced by heavy guitar-rock stuff, we are also very much into angular, minimal, and experimental music... older stuff like Wire, Gang of Four, Television, and Captain Beefheart, as well as newer stuff like Melt Banana, Deerhoof, Lightning Bolt, Pink and Brown, Arab on Radar, et cetera. So although I think we may share similar elements of nu metal, it's only because we're drinking from some of the same wells."

Referring to the standard nu-metal contingent, he adds, "I think we're probably older than most of those guys anyway. We were probably listening to Sabbath and Black Flag when they were in preschool."

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