Holy Fuck, Free Moral Agents, The Prospector, September 16, 2007
I raved about the Holy Fuck live experience (no, it's not a nun/clergy orgy, but isn't that a pretty thought?) before in this Heard Mentality post, but that show was a mere warm-up for what transpired last night. From start to finish at their Prospector gig, the Toronto quartet proved that they are one of the best bands in the world right now. (They're currently opening for Wolf Parade on a North American tour, which hit The Glass House Saturday; Sunday's was a special one-off performance with their Long Beach buds Free Moral Agents.)
The archetypal Holy Fuck song is propulsive and mesmerizing, powered by lean, motorik grooves and ornamented with juddering, chromium keyboard tones and whorling solar-wind effects forged from gear that appears to predate the Reagan era. Their tracks typically are relentless cascades of bass and keyboards (and occasionally melodica) that build to shattering climaxes and then stop abruptly. One track near set's end seems to spring out of the coda from the Who's "Baba O'Riley" and takes it even further out with accelerating spasms of analog-synth histrionics. The exception to the rule is "Lovely Allen," which is the most vertical Holy Fuck song and the one possessing the most soul-stirring melody. You will reflexively raise your illuminated cell phone to it upon impact.
Between one lull in the action, somebody shouted, "More bass!" Someone else yelled, "More drums!" Another wiseacre cracked, "More notes!" The paradox of Holy Fuck is that they're minimalists with a massive sound who should be playing Honda Center, not the tiny Prospector. And they don't need more of anything (except maybe cowbell). With their dubadelic techno-funk excursions that could theoretically ramble on till the sun bursts, Holy Fuck are ecstasy-generators par excellence.
After the set, I asked keyboardist Brian Borcherdt how in the hell had Holy Fuck become the best band in the world since I last saw them in May. He laughed and said, "Um, just add water?" Even stranger, the masses of indie-pop kids who flock to Wolf Parade concerts have been digging the Holy Fuck jams. There may be hope for humanity yet.
Free Moral Agents get tighter and more majestic every time I see 'em. If Siouxsie and the Banshees in their prime were a florid prog-rock and a brutal dub ensemble totally devoid of cliché, they might sound as amazing as Free Moral Agents. They're another band better suited for a cavernous venue instead of the tiny confines of The Prospector. The Mars Volta (with whom FMA's keyboardist Ikey Owens also plays) should take them on their next tour, although they run the risk of being outshone by their openers.