Review: Cock ESP at the Borg Ward, 10.6.09

Cock ESP performing at the Borg Ward on Tuesday night--no, really

Cock ESP performing at the Borg Ward on Tuesday night--no, really

Words by DJ Hostettler

Peter J Woods would like you to know one thing about the Borg Ward—you’re free to make as much of a mess as you’d like, but you’d better make damn sure you clean it up afterward. Cock ESP apparently never got that memo, so when the Minneapolis/Appleton noise act finished their violently ridiculous set on Tuesday night, a seething Woods was left to sweep broken glass and flour off the floor while the group cackled away backstage, videotaping improvised puppet shows with their penises while member (ahem) Matt Bacon nursed a bloody gash in his shin. Just another night in the life of a legendary (in their circles, anyway) noise act who count Thurston Moore and Melt-Banana as some of their biggest fans.

The brilliance (if you want to call it that, and I sort of do) of Cock ESP’s performance art is in the anticipation, which for repeat customers is almost more entertaining than the performance itself. And on Tuesday, anticipation accounted for the majority of the set. It broke down (ha) something like this:

0:00-20:00 minutes: iPod plays classic country hits, including a cover of “MacArthur Park,” while Some Girl Who is in Cock ESP Tonight is heard backstage yelling “LET ME DO MY COKE SO WE CAN DO THIS!” (Note: Pretty sure she didn’t actually do any coke.)

20:00-20:30: Friend of the band emerges from backstage and asks “Where are the white women at?”

20:30-20:45: Band emerges and pours a bag of flour on a door-length mirror lying on the ground (ah, so this was the aforementioned “coke”).

20:45-23:00: NOISE FEEDBACK CHAOS oh man did the guy in the thong and corpsepaint really have to hump me BROKEN MIRROR FLOUR EVERYWHERE BAND MEMBERS ROLLING AROUND AND FIGHTING AND THROWING STUFF AND oh they’re done.

Really, it was almost rather tame by their standards.

The undercard of the evening, as is often the case with noise shows, was a grab bag of spectacle. Foetopsy’s set asked the question “How many versions of Anal Cunt does one world need?” then answered it with “One—so let’s break up!” Minneapolis’ Disthroned Agony provided a multisensory concert experience by accompanying his (literally) breastplate-vibrating feedback with nudity, sending waves of ripe unwashed dude wafting through the room as he peeled off his boxers (which hopefully were disposed of through the cleansing power of fire).

But an early highlight was provided by Dear Astronaut, the Borg Ward’s stoner-doom house band, who churned through a set of their complex was-that-three-songs-nope-they’ve-only-played-one fuzz-rock. As much as I dig those guys, the band would probably benefit from reigning in their collage-like song arrangements, which are not unlike William S. Burroughs writing songs for Bongzilla. When they launch into a groove, it’s infectious, which makes it occasionally frustrating when they pull a 90-degree turn into the next part. But then, my favorite moment of the set came during their second-last song during some of the most disjointed but tight rhythms the band’s pulled off to date, so I probably should just shut up and enjoy.

Apparently even the Dear Astronaut set contained its share of drama, as their drummer abruptly quit after playing. But receiving that news from singer Jeb Ebben was sort of anticlimactic as it was delivered while a pudgy half-naked member of Cock ESP walked past in a pair of briefs with the word “SORRY” printed across the back. No apologies needed, gents—well, except maybe to Peter Woods. But then, it wouldn’t have been a Cock ESP show without someone getting pissed off.

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3 Responses to “Review: Cock ESP at the Borg Ward, 10.6.09”

  1. Peter Woods Says:

    If thats brilliance, then I’m in the wrong fucking genre. Pissing people off and acting like a shitbag is way too easy to be anything but moronic.

    You forgot to mention Pyrrhic Thanatology Monger, who in my opinion stole the show. Thick, expertly crafted low feedback rumbles with completely accappella vocals that managed to reach my ears over the top of a 1400 watt PA system. Pretty damn impressive.

  2. Nick Woods Says:

    i saw cock esp a while ago in madison as the “undercard” for this group called costes that pissed and shat all over each other for a half hour. glass and flour got nothing on that.

  3. Ryan Thompson Says:

    You made our day at the TCD office. Great Story DJ – I’ll be sure to catch the next one if they are still alive at that time!

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