Athens, Ga., trio Music Hates You aren’t about to let you off easy. Like Jesus Lizard sunning on molten, accelerated Black Sabbath grooves, the Athens trio are hot to the touch and likely to drop right through the floor of your third story apartment. Frontman Noah Ray’s performances are possessed. He’s always been comfortable as the center of attention. That goes back to the last time you saw him, when he was the skater boy digging around in that dilapidated house of R.E.M.’s video, “End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” It’s still that way today. After a recent show, a Waffle House waitress joked they could plug in there, and so he loaded in. She’ll think twice before she opens her mouth next time.
Ray resembles David Yow vocally—a howling growl, hard-charging rhino coming at you like a blur. Bleeding, broken instruments, and face-to-face in-the-pit confrontations go hand-in-hand with songs like the OCD, blus-psych rave-up, “So Much Dirt In My Spotless Lab,” the grimy, sweat-soaked “Rock’n’ Roll, Ape Sex and Hell” and “You Are My Mess,” in which Ray asks his unwanted child, “When will you grow up and be a man?” On the namesake statement of purpose, “You Have Failed As an Audience/A Beginner’s Guide,” he sings, “Music hates us…We all have to live with it because we all love music…You can’t ever possess it, you only get a taste.”
On the final leg of their first big national tour, they’re probably pretty tight, if a little stir-crazy from the van. That’s nothing a few good pokes in the ribs won’t solve. Just don’t rile them too much, they’re unpredictable.
“We’re going to play what’s in our hearts, let everyone else worry about playing music,” Ray spits. “We start and stop each song together most of the time, other than that all bets are off. But I will promise you, it will be loud.”
Music Hates You plays with Pegasus and Death Came Down the Mountain Tuesday, March 9, at The Reservoir at 10 p.m.