It’s somehow fitting that Flag Day should be the biggest event in the town of Hudson’s calendar year. And it’s a perfectly Hudson experience to roll into the normally relaxed downtown only to find Warren Street blocked off to a Rockwellian parade of marching bands, veterans and color guard streaming all the way down to the waterfront park full of carnival rides and vendors. Furthermore, the ongoing and amiable art-world inversion of this town’s American-pie façade couldn’t have been better articulated than in the Freak-Flag Day concert at Basilica Hudson, right across the street from the fried dough and Ferris wheel.
As dusk fell on the perfect summer night, an occasional concussion rattled the roof of the old glue factory. The charmingly unrefined industrial Basilica is naturally on the outskirts of Hudson and coincidentally one lot away from the staging site for the town’s fireworks display. So, in a turn of psychedelic luck, those who had come for the two-band bill of boundary-violating music were treated to front-row seats at a Technicolor blitzkrieg, as seen through the building’s vaulted pane-glass windows or from the smoke-and-ash-choked parking lot.
The finale, unfortunately, came right smack in the middle of the set by Woods, which might have been dramatic had it not drawn the audience away from the venue’s smaller atrium stage. One of few indie-anointed rock bands brave enough to openly adopt the “jam band” tag, the quartet alternated between tuneful folk-inspired rockers and psych-rock explorations with guitarist Jeremy Earl trading off between acoustic and electric guitars and lacking only in the absence of tape-effects wizard G. Lucas Crane.
Had the pyrotechnics gone off during the following set by Black Pus (Lightning Bolt drummer Brian Chippendale), though, no one might have noticed. The Marshall stack behind his drum kit had been stripped down to read “Harsh” and that’s exactly how he played, supplementing maniac drum spasms with vocal loops, shouted through his trademark microphone mask. His use of three loop pedals and effects triggers linked to his kick drum did well to fill out the harmonic elements of a sound usually covered by Lightning Bolt bassist Brian Gibson, but the result was a little more tribal-chant than their usual spazz-metal. Nonetheless, the writhing pit that formed around his kit thrashed as though the fireworks hadn’t detonated close enough, leaving the crowd sweaty, deaf and ready to curl up in the corner of the warehouse until Grimes and Godspeed You! Black Emperor each make their way to the Basilica this fall.