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Bowed onomatopoeia 

So there I was in the Bop Shop Atrium to hear Lauren Radnofskyand her amplified cello last Friday night. The space was jammed with people leaning over the balcony, bathing in the surprisingly clear acoustics, and hanging on every note.

In her program notes, Radnofsky suggested people listen "attentively with a high level of concentration, or simply walk around the atrium and experience this as ambient music." I opted for the latter, though it was hard to take your eyes off of Radnofsky's intensity as she worked her cello with love bordering on abuse. Low percussive notes moaned and thumped in digital delay, as the higher bowed notes screamed like arrows fired from a tube screamer. Her music conjured actual images with its bowed onomatopoeia (a ship at sea, the wind). There was a pleasant vagueness vacillating within the electricity.

Gaylord is another group of musicians that leaves room for listeners to fill in the blanks. Despite its swerving score, Gaylord's music is just plain fun. The band headlined a Montage Live triple bill Saturday night with TADUYA and The Quitters, and I can't recommend them enough.

The Quitters don't go for the hidden notes like Radnofsky or Gaylord, but they don't beat the well-worn ones to death either. The Quitters just write great catchy, crunchy rock 'n' roll songs. In fact there was a time that the band claimed to have invented rock 'n' roll.

Sometimes music's beauty can come through straight ahead mediums like The Quitters' Dave Snyder; he bellowed, boogied, and bounded around the stage giving himself atomic wedgies.

Seeing groups like these --- in all their abstract beauty or brutal frankness --- helped reintroduce me to why I dug music so much to begin with. For so many musicians (and some fans) music can be exhausting, all-consuming. But I've discovered music as a vital part of the larger equation, the equation of life, art, love, sex, death, and fancy footwear. Even if a lot of it is just rock 'n' roll, it's all part of something bigger. It depends, I suppose, on how you live your life. It depends on how you listen.

--- Frank De Blase


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