Sensory Overload: JFK Didn’t Even See It Coming has songs, but only kind of

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From the April 11, 2013 edition

Lightning Bolt seems like the right place to start, even if that particular phenomenon never strikes twice. More specifically, “Lightning Bolt without songs” is how Kobo door guy Corey Minton described instrumental bass-drums duo JFK Didn’t Even See It Coming while stamping my hand, though saying Lightning Bolt has songs seems generous.

Still, fellow noisemongers JFK don’t have songs either, just mountainous grooves flaming and billowing upward into infinity. Same tools, different craft. Same volume-as-violence bluster too, though the rhythmic infatuation and virtuosic histrionics also call to mind Death From Above 1979’s mustachioed cocaine cock rock, particularly when Damein Parker’s knees are channeling Mick Jagger channeling James Brown.

As follows, drummer Josh Weimer was rocking retro facial hair, the requisite costume for such ball-blasting noise rock. But just as his capable playing gets swallowed up by Parker’s porcine Rickenbacker ruckus, so also his mustache was overshadowed by the bass-shredder’s resplendent Carlos Valderrama poof. Bobbing with color, grace and force, it’s a stage prop evocative enough to outshine whatever cartoonish accessory the Flaming Lips are toying with these days.

Really, the guy has all the requisite rock star skills down; good thing no one told him you can’t play Eddie Van Halen solos on a bass. As for the grooves, give due credit to Weimer, who wrangled everything from post-TNV slapdash bluster to post-Tool riff-raff into a cohesive whole, subtly tweaking dynamics even as Parker never stopped erupting. It’s easy to overlook the drummer’s knack for keeping the chaos locked in, but so it goes for rock ’n’ roll sidemen.

Last month, these guys made the trip to Texas — where their name feels even more like a cackling middle finger — to play a South by Southwest showcase. I wasn’t in the room for that one, but I’ve seen enough SXSW showcases outside the hype storm to know it’s a crapshoot whether a crowd gathers. But it’s hard to imagine this band left Austin without making an impression. There weren’t many people at Kobo last Thursday either, but I’m fairly certain none of us is going to forget this band, even once the ringing in our ears subsides.