Uneasy Listening

Oxbow drags experimental rock into the heart of darkness

Though working in the recording studio lets the band flesh out its complex arrangements, Oxbow strips its music to the simpler components of volume, fury, and intensity when playing live. As Wenner, Adams, and Davis lay down a punishing foundation, Robinson gives the sound its physical expression. Ears covered in duct tape, the singer sheds both clothing and inhibitions in a discomforting exorcism. The performance usually leads audience members to take a step or two back, but occasionally some listeners challenge what they perceive to be an act. On the band's European tour last spring, two separate altercations arose in England. According to Robinson, one fight "almost veered off into bloodshed, knives, and riot, but happily ended up with only one man being choked into unconsciousness." While no charges were filed and all parties managed to shake hands after regaining consciousness, these incidents seem to go along with the cathartic rage Oxbow unleashes onstage.

Those uncertain about braving the chaos can soon experience the band from the safety of a theater: L.A.-based documentary filmmaker Christian Anthony shot the group's spring tour for a feature-length movie. In addition to capturing the intensity of the live Oxbow experience, Anthony hopes "to give a sense of what is required to be a truly independent band making music that is not considered accessible." The director is currently editing the film under the working title Music for Adults (Robinson continues to lobby for the more inflammatory Music to Fuck By), with the aim of finishing it by year's end.

Film figures heavily into Oxbow's plans, as Robinson just commissioned storyboards for an hourlong script he wrote titled The Narcotic Story. Though he's done a good deal of acting in everything from television to feature films to porn, Robinson will make his debut as director with this movie, which will star Tina Gordon, drummer for local metal mavens Lost Goat, along with the rest of Oxbow's members. "We're only using one song off of An Evil Heat, but we are doing a soundtrack," Robinson says of the picture's music. "Not a soundtrack record but a SOUNDtrack. Think of The Third Man; a real soundtrack with Oxbow at the helm. It'll be fun."

Tom Millea
Tom Millea


Wednesday, Nov. 6

With Rum Diary and Dropscience at 9 p.m.

Tickets are $6



Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St. (at Missouri), S.F.

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Robinson's idea of "fun" might not jibe with the average person's, but for the brave souls who peruse the quartet's intense musical diaries, Oxbow offers an exhilarating journey into spaces most bands fear to tread.

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