BEING THERE: Guerilla Toss @ Underground Arts



Right before Guerilla Toss was set to play at Underground Arts last night, I took a seat on the floor in front of the stage with my camera. The floor just happened to be the spot from which I could get a decent photo and still revel in wallflower-y seclusion. There, I could avoid contact with anyone remotely interested in talking with me and consequently figuring out my affinity for what some call “art rock” and what I’d rather not be troubled with giving a name to. Truthfully, I’m a sucker for deeply collaged sounds that give way for dissection, the kind that would give most people a headache, and that ex-music-school-nerds Guerilla Toss have mastered at this point. The four-piece band crammed onto the stage and delivered a maximally played set, pulling from a range of their releases with amazingly cosmic names like Eraser Stargazer and Flood Dosed. The sound was maxed-out just below the range of distortion, which was on point for the middle-genre-ground nature of Guerilla Toss, landing somewhere between an electronic dance party and some nasty punk rockfish basement sweat chamber fantasyland. Under a kaleidoscopic spotlight, Kassie Carlson brought the band’s psychedelic range down to earth, puncturing the sound of Guerilla Toss’ frenetic instrumentals with casually intense declarations and moments of head-jerking shrieks. She claimed her ground as head storyteller during “Grass Shack,” pouring out the words of the song with extreme clarity, like it could be the last and most important thing we might ever hear. There were quite a few moments when the noisy instrumentals would take over and fight to work in messy harmony with Carlson’s vocals, nearly warping the venue into a portal to the fourth dimension with songs like “367 Equalizer.” All of this successfully provoked a crowd of happy dancing campers, who flailed about as if to willingly risk their limbs for amputation by way of Guerilla Toss’ piercing sounds, seeing as how their faces were already fully melted. The only thing that would have been more fitting for the night would have been for the crowd to happy stomp me into obliteration at the command of Guerilla Toss, which wouldn’t have bothered me all that much. — MARY LYNN DOMINGUEZ