Live Reviews: Whores., Paris, France, Oct. 7, 2018

“Musick has charms,” asserts Restoration-era playwright William Congreve, “to soothe a savage breast.” But tonight, in this dank low-ceilinged ratskeller, while the musick certainly charms, not a single breast—savage or otherwise—would appear to have been soothed.

On the contrary, Atlanta noise-rock trio Whores. performs in a suffocating Parisian cellar with an aggression worthy of AmRep’s finest sadists. On “Bloody Like The Day You Were Born,” distortion and feedback coil around guitar riffs like a python around an infant. “Of Course You Do” seethes and rages, barking cynicism at the self-imposed slavery of conformity. With every shoulder-high leg kick and every headstock jerked to the ceiling, the group exults in the ecstasy of violence. If Unsane is the beast that shouts murder at the heart of the world, then Whores. is the primary suspect.

Between songs, singer/guitarist Christian Lembach lauds French anarchists and name-checks NWA’s “Fuck The Police.” While tuning his Telecaster, he recites the chorus from Slade’s “Cum On Feel The Noize.” The gig is abuzz with such rallying cries and expressions of animus towards the Establishment.

Each tune extols the liberating benefits of upending the system, tearing down its corrupt institutions and floating in the bliss of oblivion. Come to think of it, the caustic metal of “I Have A Prepared Statement” draws the set to a fitting close with the line: “I sink/I’m gone/I’m free.”

Perhaps this evening of simple, feral pleasures, appealing to the basest of our instincts, is simply an exercise in cathartic eschatology. Yes, Congreve, music does indeed have charms to soothe a savage breast. But it also hath power to provoke a clenched fist.

—Eric Bensel