Live @ Carrboro Elementary, Carrboro, North Carolina
By: Eric G.
A Shellac show at an elementary school is relatively tame compared to some of the seedy non-music halls they've been known to play like the Clermont Lounge in Atlanta- a strip club for obscenely overweight, elderly strippers who crush beer cans with their breasts. This show was held in Carrboro Elementary's multi-purpose room, complete with the red show-curtains, intercom system, and bucket theater seats that adorn every multi-purpose room in every elementary school everywhere. The bathroom had spitballs all over the ceiling and one of those hand-washers with the foot-pedal that sprays a fan of water so twenty kids can all wash their hands at the same time.
The band played for an hour and forty minutes with bassist Bob Weston conducting the occasional question and answer sessions to break up the tuning time. The set was just like a Shellac record- loud, phenomenally tight, abrasive, and bludgeoning thanks to drummer Todd Trainer. "The Man Who Invented Fire" opened the show with desiccating ferocity. Albini's guitar tone sounds much more severe live than it does on record. He and Weston both use homemade amplifiers with only one setting: a volume control knob the size of a giant combination lock. In addition to "The Man Who Invented Fire", the band's early seven inches were well represented by "The Rambler Song" (the fast, original version) and an extended, lyrically ad-libbed version of "Wingwalker."
Requests were unwelcome and met with cynical lashings, but there wasn't a whole lot left to play by the end of the show as the band covered most of its material including two new songs. Bob Weston has taken on more vocal duties, especially on the songs off Terraform, and his style, while not as gritty and hateful as Albini's speak/shriek, adds a welcome dynamic to the formula most notably on the Jesus Lizard-y "Rush Job." The crowd was fairly subdued and polite except when antagonized by the band in between songs. Unsurprisingly, there were no encores.