September 06, 2001

Fantomas & Atomsmasher @ Slim's

If you're looking for background music, or happy music, or summer day driving fast on the highway singing along music, avoid Fantomas at all costs. But if you're looking for a band that pushes the boundaries of music and noise, that combines free jazz and grindcore, Fantomas is for you.

With an ungodly early showtime of 8 pm, unfortunately we missed opener Atomsmasher, but arrived just minutes before Fantomas took the stage. Opening with "The Godfather Waltz," it quickly devolved from singer/multi-instrumentalist Mike Patton playing a plaintive melodica line into brutal grindcore. That pretty much set the tone for the evening.

Drawing heavily from their recent Director's Cut CD, Fantomas ripped through their bizarre free-jazz/experimental-metal interpretations of a dozen movie theme songs, and, sadly, "Flashdance (What a Feeling)" was not among them. But they more than made up for that by closing with a brutal medley of Lombardo-era Slayer songs.

And in between Mike Patton screamed, sang, yelped, conducted, and challenged his band to ascend to new levels of weirdness. Melvins guitarist Buzz Osbourne, his bizarre white man's afro defying gravity, coaxed otherworldly sounds out of Gibsons, while Patton manipulated his myriad effects boxes, keyboards, samplers, and theremin to add to the musical melange. At times it was hard to believe there were only four guys creating all that racket.

If you're anywhere near San Francisco, I urge you to check out the second night of this two-night run. Walk, crawl, drive, or fly to Slim's tonight. You may be disturbed, frightened, bewildered, or downright scared, but you certainly won't be disappointed.

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