Major Stars (8.17.05)

Posted on July 28, 2008



written by Matt Parish
I’ve never done acid. But I’ve played enough video games to know that when an impossible amount of shit is going on all at once, sometimes things have to go into slow-motion. If you throw enough flaming skulls and faceless alien stormtroopers at the screen, your system will get totally bogged down and lapse into a temporary, digitally shellshocked time-warp strobe mode. If you know what I mean, you’re in the club. If you don’t, just take some acid and try to catch up. We can’t pander to the lowest common denominator all the time.

The point is that when this happens, it’s awesome. What makes this relevant to us right now is that there are a few local musicians unwittingly coming close to creating this very same effect; and it should come to no surprise to you that they also run Twisted Village, that totally bonkers record store in Harvard Square. From the nooky confines of that basement, Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar have been situated squarely in the center of most things musically weird, fringy, misfit and defiantly unlistenable for years. As performers, they’ve assaulted audiences from all angles of the avant-garde for 25 years from behind the guises of lots of different bands like Magic Hour, Vermonster, Crystallized Movements and Heathen Shame—each with its own modus operandi. With Major Stars, the key is relentless guitar solos.

Right—this isn’t some dudes winding half-erased tape through feedback loops or scraping trumpet bells with steel wool. It’s 15-minute rock jams with sporadic vocals and some crazy wah-wah action. While this may raise some warning flags, don’t be afraid. As their latest release, 4, documents, Major Stars have sculpted the form of the extended solo freakout into a righteous mothership. Over straight-up drumming and bluesy stoner-rock bass, Rogers and Biggar’s guitars burn like an effigy of equal parts Hendrix, Zappa, Coltrane and the Butthole Surfers’ Paul Leary.

A sourpuss might dismiss this as mindless ‘60s acid-rock revivalism; but said puss would be missing the slo-mo Black Flag breakdowns and minute-long total feedback swells (in tune!) that sneak into the party. Fellow townies will have a chance to witness this high-wire act in all its drooling, blaring, classy grandeur at TT’s, as Major Stars open for the glitched-out space-rock quartet Kinski this Tuesday. It’ll be worth the trip.

[Originally Appeared in Boston’s Weekly Dig 8.17.05]