Live Review: Fucking Orange and Madraso at 3 Kings Tavern

Categories: Concert Reviews
Photo: Tom Murphy
Madraso breaks the post-hardcore mold.

Fucking Orane, Madraso
Friday, July 11, 2008
3 Kings Tavern
Better Than:
Another doomy, sludgy, wannabe experimental heavy rock show.

Because there was some issue with a couple of touring bands getting to the venue late (I think one of them ultimately did turn up), the show started a little late, but it didn’t make the show feel like it was dragging out. Madraso, a three-piece post-hardcore type of band from Seattle, kicked the night off. Trading the typical post-hardcore screamo vocals for a menacing growl and presenting a drummer that played like maniac with a bassist that lunged about, Madraso was interesting and carried a sound that evoked the Minutemen and Scratch Acid playing a show together under a single name or a scarier, more frantic U-Men.

Fucking Orange’s was up next, playing its final show. It’s too bad this was the last one. Apparently the guys are going in a completely different direction and felt like it was time to retire the name and the songs. Everything great about the band was in full array for this gig. The group opened with one of its longer numbers and the show began with the sonic brutality for which the band is known. But the song rolled into a different kind of heavy before transitioning smoothly into a dreamy sound floating inside staggeringly powerful music. Fucking Orange is one of the few bands that could be both sludgy and ethereal at the same time (two others being the Swans and Neurosis).

At one point during the first song, it sounded like the band had taken a Fugazi number stretched beyond its natural borders and slowed down. But that was an illusion, as the music never really slowed down. A lot of heavier bands have tried to be more interesting, but it’s not an easy trick. Fucking Orange, however, has pushed heavy music into unknown territory. The middle part of the set was comprised of the band’s more succinct material (one of which clocked in at around 8 ½ minutes). On tracks such as “Neohesh Begins” and “Fucking Green,” the outfit recalled Unwound on psychedelic amphetamines.

Photo: Tom Murphy
Fucking Orange was fucking rad.

The act closed the night with a song that pointed out the direction in which the band had been going at the very end of its run, with atonal atmospherics, the sounds of electrified clouds rimmed with moonlight, colliding with each other on a stormy night. The overall otherworldliness were like the best HP Lovecraft stories about journeys into the Mountains of Madness: Dark, menacing, enigmatic, colossal and epic, one movement melded with another to produce another that shifted into another so that the music flowed with its own infernally bright logic, allowing plodding rhythms to transform into airy minimalism and then to fiery, propulsive passages. In this final song, Fucking Orange progressed in a way that most other heavy bands don’t accomplish in entire careers. We can only hope that future projects will be as artistically daring.

-- Tom Murphy

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Even though I only got to see the band nine times, I had the pleasure of seeing the act develop and grow in fascinating and dramatic ways.
Random Detail: Fucking Orange did not indeed play any of its harrowingly good covers of Fugazi, Portishead and the Cure — the latter two seemingly at odds with the oufit's overall sound.
By the Way: Always check your camera to make sure you have your battery before leaving the house for a show where you’re supposed to take pictures.

This is the fifth of thirty-five consecutive shows that Tom Murphy is planning on attending. His whole idea is to prove that there's cool stuff going on any night of the week in Denver, if you bother to make any effort whatsoever to find it. He suggested naming this series, "This Band Could Be Your Life," a fitting designation to be sure. Since there's already a similarly titled book, however, we opted to file these entries under Last Night's Show -- you know, to avoid being sued an all. (Sorry, Tom.)

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