Jason Lescalleet

Kevin Drumm/Jason Lescalleet, Brent Gutzeit - Live at Constellation (11/12/2015)

Read a review for Drumm/Lescalleet's Busman's Holiday here

At 9 PM, approximately 70 people inside Constellation were sitting as the lights began to dim. Exit signs on either side of the room and faint overhead lights above each seating area were the only things preventing complete darkness to overtake the space. Conversations ceased and everyone looked towards the center of the room to see opener Brent Gutzeit perform. A low drone started to play and it soon became clear that no one was actually coming out. Nothing was projected onto the huge screen either. In fact, Gutzeit was apparently behind it the entire time and the show became an opportunity for everyone to engage with his performance on a completely aural level.

About five minutes into Gutzeit's set, a distorted pop song was incorporated and its vocal melody felt haunting and carnivalesque. It grew louder and began to take shape until he abruptly stopped it, let a fast-paced tone ring for ten seconds, and erupted into huge screeching electronics. When the noise died down, a soft airy drone eventually appeared alongside faint but reverberant banging. This formed into a steady beat and, at its loudest, made the ceiling fans ring out with a small metallic buzz. The second half of the set was primarily built around that moody drone. It wasn't overly melodic but it was in a constant state of flux and as a result, felt rather meditative. In the song's final stretch, more thumping appeared but it sounded as if the audio for each thud was played in reverse. It paired nicely with recordings of wind and it evoked the feeling of being alone in the woods at night. The set lasted around thirty minutes and, overall, was an interesting experience.

Kevin Drumm and Jason Lescalleet's set had a false start—the person running the projector began the clip while people were still returning to the room after intermission. Lescalleet promptly told the man to stop and until everyone was seated, had the clip start again. It was, if anything, an indication that the set was going to demanded complete attention. The set opened with "The Hunt", the first track from the recently released Busman's Holiday. The screen displayed the Point Blank scene from which the track takes its audio from and right when the two came in with their screeching noise, the screen turned completely white. A spinning ceiling fan faded in and was framed such that its base was facing towards the audience. This was an image that returned throughout the night, and its repetitive spinning coincided perfectly with the sort of hypnotizing drones that Drumm and Lescalleet played.

In general, the two used the material on Busman's Holiday as a foundation for their set but still allowed a lot of room for improvisation. Key features from certain tracks played out well in a live setting—the circling vortex of "The Hunt", the brief moment of silence in "The Push", the sudden shift into a noisy drone in "Belligerence"—and it all felt incredibly massive as the sounds filled the entire room. Because the set transformed the album into a single, continuous piece, the two had to incorporate certain transitions between each track. One particularly memorable moment came at the end of "The Wait", where a looping melody emerged from the song's murky atmosphere. The loop grew louder and louder until it was the only thing playing. Its rhythm was mesmerizing but just as one was able to get fixated on it, the two broke out into the blaring wall of sound that starts "The Push". The inverse effect was achieved near the end of "Belligerence". A high-frequency chirping sound blared for an extended period of time—surely the most ear-piercing passage of the night. But as the familiar sounds of "Honest Toil" came in, it sounded all the more warm and alluring.

While Lescalleet and Drumm's music was incredible, it's important to acknowledge how essential the visual component was to the entire experience. Directed by Chicago-native Julia Dratel, images of the mundane became mysterious and provocative. A standard floor fan was presented on-screen but with an extreme close-up on its metal wiring, a lot of which was covered by strings of collected dust. Its cage-like depiction suited the music appropriately. Soon, various images of objects with holes in them appeared. At first, it was unclear as to what these images were but it was slowly revealed to be bottles of lotion. It was, frankly, incredibly humorous considering how horrific it initially seemed and one of the most memorable parts of the performance. The most beautiful image was of a large garbage pile (which my friend informed me was actually not too far from the venue itself). As soon as it appeared, Lescalleet started slamming his hand onto the record on his turntable and created dissonant noise. There were numerous moments when both the music and film seemed to be in complete synchronization—and as the last stop on their tour, they presumably had this down pat—but this was, by far, the most affecting moment of the night.

The entire show was captivating from beginning to end. And I can't stress enough how large a difference there is between hearing Busman's Holiday at home versus hearing it live. There was an unavoidable physicality to the music in this live setting and with the added visuals, made this tour one that any fan shouldn't have missed. Near the beginning of the set, Lescalleet walked towards the audience multiple times to hear if the music was loud enough. He was making sure that this live experience was the best it could possibly be and when the show ended, I had a good feeling that it was.