Erase Errata at the Black Cat
The most important thing reggae taught British post-punk was how to make the rhythm section a band's main event. Erase Errata's Ellie Erickson and Bianca Sparta aren't exactly as deft as Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, reggae's most celebrated rhythmic duo, but they serve the same function: providing a steadfast musical pulse that can hold its own, with or without the high-pitched embellishments of singer (and occasional trumpeter) Jenny Hoysten and guitarist Sara Jaffe. The result is an improbable yet invigorating brand of uptight dance music.
Erase Errata, which performed Wednesday at the Black Cat, isn't British. The band is from the San Francisco Bay area, one of many U.S. metropolises (notably New York and Washington) where the sound of U.K. post-punk bands like Gang of Four, Delta Five and the Slits has inspired a new generation to make harsh, herky-jerky noise. Clothing covered with blocks of day-glo pink, yellow and orange gave the musicians a '60s op art look, and their songs were as abrupt as those of the mid-'70s Ramones. The quartet's sound, however, was definitely early '80s.
The band hasn't released a new album or learned any new tricks since it played at the Black Cat a year ago, so the set offered few surprises. Ultimately, Erase Errata's sound probably will evolve into something more supple; that's what happened to most of its post-punk models. For now, though, the band resists refinement. It has just as much polish as its urgent one-to-two-minute outbursts require.
-- Mark Jenkins
Molotov at Nation Mexico City might not strike anyone as a hotbed of rap-metal music, but Molotov is doing everything in its power to change that. The four-piece group was recently on the cover of the Mexican edition of Rolling Stone, its latest disc ("Dance and Dense Denso") broke the top 20 on Billboard's Latin album chart, and its video for the controversial song "Frijolero" has received some airplay on MTV en Espan~ol.
A crowd of 250 or so turned out at Nation on Wednesday night for Molotov's exuberant, furiously entertaining show. Though just over an hour long, it was a raucous affair that set off a good old-fashioned mosh pit and chants of appreciation from the audience. Fans regularly tossed about cups of beer, perhaps giving a new, less lethal meaning to the term Molotov cocktail.
Though the band often tackles themes as weighty as politics and racism ("Frijolero" is an indictment of U.S. Border Patrol policy), it is just as likely to write songs about sex and boys just wanting to have fun. The band's music reflects as many elements of Blink-182 and the Beastie Boys as of Rage Against the Machine. So although Molotov isn't afraid to address serious issues, it also wants to throw a party. It brought fans (well, female ones anyway) onstage to dance to a couple of songs.
Guitarist Tito Fuentes, bassists Micky Huidobro and Paco Ayala and drummer Randy Ebright alternated on vocals, shouting out their raps over a deafening boom. Before leaving they draped themselves in Mexican flags proffered by fans and promised they'd be back. If this is the sound of south-of-the-border rock, a good number of U.S. bands ought to take that as a warning.
-- Joe Heim