You could listen to 400 Blows's new album, Sickness and Health—you could listen to any of their albums, really—but that would sort of miss the point. 400 Blows does not want to entertain you at home. They want to get you in a basement and hypnotize you with repetitive, sludge-metal guitar and odd-tempo drumming so that singer Skot Alexander can reprogram your brain. Alexander's live presence is defined by three features: surreal lyrics, vaguely fascist dress—black shirt, strangler's gloves, Ray-Bans—and the urgent sense that he should blow his nose. It's a riled-up show in the Black Flag tradition, and it has made 400 Blows a live legend.
It also makes them a fine opener for Butthole Surfers, another band that knows the value of provocation. The two groups will almost certainly be loud and unsettling when they play this week. As contemporary rock turns toward pop hooks and pleasing sounds, 400 Blows reminds us that sometimes we want music that, to quote the Revolting Cocks, "makes you feel nervous and angry." That's what I want, anyway. You can find me at the Wilma on Tuesday, maybe freaking out.
400 Blows plays the Wilma Tuesday, September 6, at 8 PM with Butthole Surfers. $30/$25 advance at Rockin Rudy's and porterhouseproductions.com.