"There's a dark cloud on the horizon . . . There's a fly in the ointment . . . Uh, a teenie fly but . . . a uh, fly." Sweat streamed down the pudgy cheeks of singer David Thomas. He glanced about, apprehensively, then roared with laughter, like a manic Jackie Gleason.
Last night at Gaston Hall, Pere Ubu, a Cleveland-based rock group, was featured in a show marked by dark, brooding expressions of urban disturbance. Two films preceded the music with harsh, surrealistic images of a world beset by a domineering technology, in which dehumanized humans are stalked by malevolent, man-like machines.
Pere Ubu reinforced this mood with a set that was engrossing shrill and nerve-racking. Their "music" was actually a series of clanks, sputters and grating mechanical outburst given shape by the paranoia of Thomas' onstage persona. Drummer Scott Krauss and bassist Tony Maimone provided the rhythmic structure above which Tom Herman's electronic guitar and AllenRavenstine's synthsizer shot jarring accents that sent Thomas into vocal spasms as he recoiled before the assualt of sound. The group is one of the most intriguing exponents of the new generation of Factory Rockers who are railing at the synthetic sensibilities of contemporary society. Pere Ubu shrieks with anger and frustration, but also with a madness of method that is unsetting.