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Basement beat
Milky Way shindig unleashes the Hound; ZuZu goes iPod

A glance around the Milky Way last Wednesday was enough to determine which members of the audience were seeing the local metal band the Hound for the first time. Flanked by four guys in black T-shirts, singer Tiffiney Shoquist was dressed in a billowy yellow dress and ballet slippers. But anyone expecting a pretty voice was in for a surprise: when the petite pixie opened her mouth, bellowing in a classic larynx-shredding death-metal style like Carcassís Jeff Walker or At the Gatesí Tomas Lindberg, the uninitiated either stared in slack-jawed shock or let out an involuntary giggle. "Their look is so deceptive that itís fun just watching the audienceís faces drop as the Hound start the first song," said Milky Way DJ Boo Boo Danger, who put together the show as part of his weekly "The Basement" night at the Lounge. "No one would ever guess that Tiffineyís voice could be so brutal. The whole experience is like getting sucker-punched, but in the best way." The Hound played a blistering, if familiar, set of hardcore and metal, at times sounding like a souped-up Iron Maiden. At one point, shredder Reuben Blanchard even strapped on a mediæval-looking spiked gauntlet. "Iíve got the licks," he proclaimed. "Why canít I wear the studded wristband?"

Boo Boo started "The Basement" last fall after the sale of the Chopping Block put an end to his short-lived gig DJing a weekly rock night there. By offering up slabs of punk, hardcore, metal, and new wave ó highlights on Wednesday included Minor Threat, Metallica, the Pixies, and Converge ó "The Basement" has drawn comparisons to Mark Vieiraís Blackout Bar (which takes place across town the same night), and some have wondered whether there isnít a budding rivalry. "That couldnít be further from the truth," says Boo Boo. "Mark Vieira and I have been buddies for seven or eight years, and I love what he does. Heís really opened opportunities for underground-rock DJs in this town while bringing several groups of patrons together that never would have hung out with each other five or 10 years ago. In that respect, what we are doing is very similar."

The scene the following night at ZuZu, where the local electro duo Big Digits kicked off a month-long residency, would not have warmed Bill Gatesís heart. "Itís like a Mac commercial in here," opined New Yorkís Alan Astor, who like everyone else on the bill rocked Macintosh products. In fact, apart from the mikes, laptops and iPods were the only (working) musical instruments in the house, from the DJ ó Rhode Island laptop-pop dude San Serac ó on down. First up were the local duo Cassette. MicL PTVN (thatís his pseudonym, and heís sticking to it) strapped on a keytar, but it wasnít plugged in: he finger-synched along to pre-recorded analog synth lines pumped in via iPod ó like some sort of geek-pop Milli Vanilli ó while flamboyant singer Nate B. treated the crowd to a theatrical serenade. At one point, Nate escaped out an open window and sang to startled passers-by. Next up was Astor, who combined an impassioned ó histrionic, really ó folk-like vocal performance reminiscent of Richie Havens with IDM-ish backing that was piped in from (you guessed it) an iPod. Astor hopped around the front of the room like an electro-hippie kangaroo, swigging Red Bull between songs and occasionally blowing baritone sax. Headliners Big Digits, celebrating the release of their new album every Thursday in their ZuZu residency, were iPod-less; instead, they pumped their tracks directly from iTunes on their laptop. The Cambridge duo sounded like Beastie Boys gone techno ó with more yelling and way freakier dance moves. The result was alternately amusing and annoying, but itís tough to hate on anyone who rhymes "dance casino" with "Brian Eno."

Will Spitz can be reached at wspitz[a]phx.com

Issue Date: April 15 - 21, 2005
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