Lightning Bolt, Whatever Brains, Drippy Inputs | Kings | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
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Lightning Bolt, Whatever Brains, Drippy Inputs 

When: Mon., May 11, 8:30 p.m. 2015
Price: $12-$14

LIGHTNING BOLT

MONDAY, MAY 11

KINGS, RALEIGH—Have Lightning Bolt grown up? The Providence, Rhode Island duo still makes manic noise-rock, but after two decades, they've changed in ways that could be called mature. They no longer play in the middle of the audience, for instance, having ascended the stage so everyone can see. And after six albums recorded in their practice space, they cut their latest, Fantasy Empire, in a pro studio. It even comes with a lyric sheet—a bold step for a band whose vocals, sung by masked drummer Brian Chippendale, are usually unintelligible.

Thanks to the increased clarity, Fantasy Empire sounds like a bigger, three-dimensional version of every other Lightning Bolt album. Where the hyper workouts of Chippendale and bassist Brian Gibson once smeared into chaos, you can see the individual elements topple into each other here. Yet the music remains a thrilling maelstrom. "It still feels like a mess," Gibson said when I interviewed him earlier this year. "I'm barely keeping up with it."

He's being a bit modest, as the duo's writing is rather advanced on Fantasy Empire. The tunes are just as gloriously bludgeoning, but there's more going in every phrase. The rhythms and hooks are broader in ways that reposition Lightning Bolt as a splattering noise band, a hard-rock juggernaut and an arty metal outfit. "Over time, I think we've figured out how to make songs," Gibson admitted. "Originally we wanted to be a rock band, but we didn't know how."

If they do know, it's a specialized knowledge, because there aren't many other rock bands that sound like Lightning Bolt. Perhaps they've grown out more than they've grown up. That's a testament to the power of sticking to a single vision: If you keep digging the same hole, you're always getting deeper, even if it feels like you're stuck in the same place. With Whatever Brains and Drippy Inputs. 8:30 p.m., $12-$14, 14 W. Martin St., Raleigh, 919-833-1091, www.kingsbarcade.com. —Marc Masters

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