Therapy?: Gallery Lombardi Lounge, Thursday, Mar 16
Gallery Lombardi Lounge, Thursday, Mar 16 With a violent, bed-shaking spasm, the dormant beast reawakened. Belfast's Therapy?, in stateside remission since 1995, stormed the Gallery Lombardi stage like a group of escaped convicts releasing years' worth of festering tension. Frontman Andy Cairns was a spasmodic freakshow unto himself, wrapped in lumberjack flannel and wool cap, sporting a goatee and long, greasy hair. He was content to merely thrash about on the opener, creating amped-up aural mayhem with his guitar while drummer Fyfe Ewing ferociously pounded his skins. Cairns teased the crowd by stepping towards the microphone and quickly stepping away, leaving the bewildered audience wondering how much more intense it would get once the madman starts screaming. When Cairns finally imposed his will upon the PA system on the second song, the results were shocking. The combination of Cairns' leather-lunged yowl and mad, head-cocked glare must have caused some sort of electrochemical reaction, because it soon became apparent the audience wasn't the only party shocked in this exchange. Cairns' microphone stood toe-to-toe with the monster himself, responding to the singer's every utterance with electrical surges that sent the singer's head bouncing back as violently as he approached the device. After the soundman waived his magical grounding wand across the mike, Cairns seemed to snap out of his initial rabid stupor. "We're glad to be in America," he announced, "home of Mötley Crüe!" And it showed, from the band's utter insistence on cranking out a head-shaking groove right on down to Cairns' leg-splitting, guitar-god leaps. The commotion even caused the beginnings of a rare SXSW (non-Back Room) mosh pit, at least until the industry pros remembered to be self-conscious again. If nothing else, the sheer ear-bleeding volume of the spectacle made it nearly impossible to stand still. Ewing was giving the snare drum the flogging of a lifetime, almost daring the hide to bust open during one cut off the brand-new beast of an album, Suicide Pact -- You First. The neurotic fury came to a head during an ode to "cheap bathtub crank -- cheap American bathtub crank." "Teethgrinder," off 1992's Nurse was just that, a tightly wound, bloody-nub lockjaw groove. Ah, the painful price of waiting five years between checkups.
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