AIDS Wolf at Pilot Light: Nihilism Can be Exhausting, But Kind of Thrilling, Too

Most of us have learned that nihilism can be exhausting. For Canadian noise-rock trio AIDS Wolf’s show at Pilot Light on Tuesday, Sept. 21, it was no different.

Fake Blood was a nice warm-up to the brutal AIDS Wolf; the local quartet—two guitarists, a drummer, and a saxophonist—plays its own brand of creepy noise rock. With no vocals, it could be said the band is jamming, but it more closely resembles a garbled tuning where everything falls apart before the group slowily (and clumsily) pick up the pieces, and then repeats. While this does sound typical of a noise rock band, the group’s cohesive moments produced an enjoyable and original kind of hardcore jazz rock.

Fake Blood creeped around for a little over 20 minutes, then announced “Thanks!”—those were the first words of their performance—and cleared out to make way for AIDS Wolf. The band— guitarist Alex Moskos, drummer Yannick Desranleau, and vocalist Chloe Lum—silently took the stage a few minutes before midnight and began playing their slightly sadistic noise rock to a half-confused crowd of about 40. Through the chaos of guitars that sounded like police sirens and Desranleau beating his drumheads to pulp, lyrics weren’t really audible. Lum prefers to use her voice as more of an improptu instrument, screaming incoherent words and sounds through a microphone with heavy effects. On AIDS Wolf’s more accessible songs, the result is a truly awesome bit of punk noise. But this is often broken up by chaotic frenzy or extended moments of near-excruciating squalls. One of the more outlandish methods of music-making came when Moskos brought on about a minute of manipulated high-pitch feedback a la Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. It was an exhausting spectacle (which is probably why audience members trickled in and out of the venue during th set). It displays the best and worst of nihilistic music while inducing a rare sort of calm paranoia, where you already know there is hardly anything more vile and sinister than what is occurring onstage.

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