ATOMIC BITCHWAX + Floating Widget + Steeltow @ Foufounes Électriques

By T BONE - Beer O'Clock - 06/13/05

It is Monday night, don’t you guys have jobs to go to in morning?” says the bass player for Atomic Bitchwax over the mic. And the 100 people who were at Foufounes on Monday night responded with an overwhelming “yes”, but we didn’t give a fuck if we have to. The gesture was done with beer in the air with much hollering. Yes, we all came here to feel the serpents of rock play. I actually didn’t really know them until the show other than by name. The K-man from Beyond THAT Grave Yard III called it the American version of the Illuminati. He continued by telling me to mix some Stevie Ray Vaughn and you’ll have Atomic Bitchwax. He simply finished off by being straightforward: “Dude, they’re fucking heavy!”. OK, OK, that was worth conning my way out of work to drink some beers on the patio and have a few smokes. At 8PM, I was at Foufounes sipping wine and feeling fine.

OK, time for a quick tangent. I have been currently reading a book on Possessions and Trance in Bali. The Balinese put great importance in the trance state and is accepted in a wide range of practices from artistic to religious. The highest type of trance for the Balinese comes from the gods. However, this type of trance is usually initiated only in temple ceremonies. A temple ceremony is a sacred place where rituals and offerings are made to the gods or past ancestors in gratitude. To this end, they will often use music to induce trance and invite the gods to the ceremony. Therefore the highest type of music for the Balinese is music created by the gods and channelled through musicians in a trance. It is easy to look at all this with awe mixed with a hint of jealously for these practices. We can lament on how we have gotten so far away from it, living here in the consuming West. But I would beg to differ. Or at least I would surmise that we’re not very far off and that we are closer than we think. Brad Warner, the Zen Master and monster movie maker wrote an interesting book called Hardcore Zen. One chapter in that book was called “Why is Gene Simons not a Zen Master?”. I won’t ruin the punchline for you as Brad wrote it quite eloquently, so I will only leave you with the initial question. Can musicians be intrinsically interested in reality and express it in their playing?

So to get back to Atomic Bitchwax -- for us who are into rock n’ roll -- I will ask you another question: who hasn’t felt this trance-like state watching your favourite band? You know the feeling, although it may be different for each band; there is a smoothness, like melting honey that fills your whole being. You become loose and your body, head, or whatever you feel is moving, is dancing to the rhythm. For experienced musicians, you might get that feeling when you are playing; your mind becomes quiet and your movements are perceived as involuntary. Like Steve from the Saga once told me that it was only when he played that he felt completely free. But then why is Gene Simons not a Zen Master?

This is where we really get into our Atomic Bitchwax. The first band Steeltow were really good. It is one of those bands that would be quite amazing if they just went out and tour constantly. Good rock with strong vocals. As for Floating Widget, they were more memorable when they opened up for Alabama Thunder Pussy. Mind you, I was completely tanked and stoned at the ATP show, so maybe anything sounded good. Don’t get me wrong, Floating Widget were good with strong vocals, but there were too much rock theatrics for this type of rock show. My personal feeling is that like the first band, they haven’t had a chance to tour constantly and lose that sense of wanting to perform instead of just playing. There is no two ways about it, if you want to be in a solid rock band, you have to play all the time, and that takes balls because you’re gonna be poor.

When Atomic Bitchwax came on stage, you could tell that in their own right, they were masters. Not that Steeltow and Floating Widget were bad, it’s just that Atomic Bitchwax just completely outranks them in the amount of hours they have played as a band. It does make a huge different, especially for rock bands. They played a solid set with, blistering solos, lots of rhythm and good soul, everything sounded right and in place. Nothing seems to be forced. If you weren’t there, you should have been. At the end of it all, you sometimes find order in the chaos of a rock show. When Atomic Bitchwax was about to play their last song, a guy who looked like the Deaner from FUBAR climbed on stage. He then proceeded to bow with hand-in-fist reverence to each of the musicians. He then jumped off the stage and was carried out by a procession of people who took him to the four corner of the room like a Jesus on a cross. Atomic Bitchwax went into their last song with their fake encore, and walked off the stage. From the stage, the bassist directed himself straight to the merch table to sell some shirts and records for gas money.

Can Gene Simons be a Zen Master? Can Atomic Bitchwax be a Zen Master? Can rock n’ roll be your Zen Master? If you think that’s not possible, let me remind you that we live in a world where Michael Jackson is innocent of all charges.

[Tune into the Beer O’Clock Fridays at 8:00pm]