It’s nice to see that despite years of frantic gentrification, the Lower East Side still defies all attempts to be tamed. Case in point: the large cardboard sign held by a healthy, perfectly sane-looking youth that reads thusly: “Please help, need money for PCP & a Handgun.”
This is the first thing I see walking out of the Astor Place subway on August 24 while on my way through the trash-chic Valhalla that is Manhattan’s Bowery, tonight’s quarry being the 205 Bar, where in about four hours Dragons of Zynth will pretty much burn the fucker down then not even bother to piss on it to cease the blaze. I’ve been asked a bunch of times, by various friends and loved ones who hear me do nothing but hype these guys, what exactly Dragons of Zynth’s sounds like. The task is hopeless: Coronation Thieves, the band’s upcoming debut (due September 25 via Gigantic), is just one of those albums that lives inside its own twisted metaverse, where free jazz and neo-soul collide with late-’60s psychedelia and punk to form what in the end is an utterly unique experience. The word “mindfuck” seems to me a pleasing and relevant adjective.
The night starts with a terrific set by Os Crunc Tesla, who after only an hour or so has successfully shot everyone in the bar out of our current phenomenality and into a sort of electro-dadaistic Mars that I’m still trying to get my head around. When the members of Dragons of Zynth take the stage about ten minutes later, we’re all fairly primed for whatever weapon they might deign to destroy us with — which, as it turns out, is none other than the Bronx-born, Cleveland-raised fraternal twins that front the band, Aku and Akwetey O.T. Both carry that vacant look of blood-shot oblivion in their eyes, which could mean they are either balls-out stoned or simply insane. There will be a couple of times tonight where I honestly can’t tell which one.
The set opens with the brief but savage “Breaker,” and right here is where it becomes immediately apparent that the setup at 205 is just too damn small to contain these two. Aku and Akwetey are electrifying performers, as intense and physical as just about anybody I’ve ever seen, so a stage that barely holds enough surface area to cover the drum set really feels insulting.
After a relatively down-tempo “Get Off,” Dragons of Zynth just fucking brings it with the extraordinary “Who Rize Above,” a ferocious six-minute ascension into post-Hendrix thrash-funk that would like nothing more than to turn all that hear it into salt. Pretty much everything within this song’s blast radius melts instantly. Small children and virgins run terrified in all directions as Aku screams in seance to Akwetey’s erupting guitar. Outside, blood and mackerel rain from the sky while Aku dives head-first into the audience and nearly sodomizes me with his skull. Earth and moon are swallowed by hell-flame, and inside 205 everyone’s head simultaneously explodes at the speed of light. Thank you, everybody. We are Dragons of Zynth. Good-fucking-night!
The show doesn’t really last much longer after this, which is a disappointment bordering on total cock tease. All in all, the Dragons of Zynth plays roughly twenty whole minutes then bounces off the stage to mingle. The consensus among the people I’m with is that this is hardly enough time to be sucked in by a performance, but at this point I’m still trying to gather what’s left of my central nervous system from “Who Rize Above,” so I couldn’t really give a shit. No matter what these fools say, twenty minutes of Dragons of Zynth is still a total sonic apocalypse that needs to be seen and heard to truly be believed. All you need is ears and maybe a mind willing to be blown. Sanity appears to be optional.