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For the Messthetics, music is a problem you solve to get free

From left: Joe Lally, Anthony Pirog, Brendan Canty. (Photo: Antonia Tricarico)
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Here's the short version of how the Messthetics started vibrating our airspace: The District's most intrepid jazz guitarist started jamming with the rhythm section of Fugazi, and now they have a killer band that sounds immersive and propulsive, like a locomotive mood.

The guitarist is Anthony Pirog; the Fugazi alums are drummer Brendan Canty and bassist Joe Lally; and here's the longer story: Canty says he had been hearing good things about some "virtuoso who loves noise," and after finally catching Pirog perform, he approached the guitarist with "a shower of sycophantic, syrupy outpourings — which is always a good way to start a relationship, right?"

Right. "That made me very happy," Pirog says of the encounter. "After that, we just hit it off." Pirog began playing regularly with Canty, and eventually Lally, giving a guitarist rooted in jazz and free improvisation a golden opportunity to get loud with two of the most telepathic punk musicians of all time. Pirog would introduce jagged shards of music, and the trio would work away at the zigzag edges until everything began to flow. Lally describes the process as "almost like a problem that we have to solve together," and once they do, "then there's a freedom."

That freedom seems to be heightening the trio's internal ESP, musical and otherwise, because when asked separately about what happens next for this band, each of them gave, in different words, the same answer.

Here's Canty: "We're really young — in terms of a band, not in terms of human, fleshy objects — and it'll be really exciting to see how it grows up, how it behaves, what kind of organism it becomes and where we can go with it." Lally: "It's pretty wide open. I don't see any restrictions to any of it." And Pirog: "What I want to know now is, how far can we go in every direction?"

Show: With Gauche, Bacchae and Weird Babies on Jan. 20 at 6 p.m. at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church, 1525 Newton St. NW. $10.