Crash Worship


Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Today’s weird band is yet another suggestion from one of our greatest sources of weird band lore, our buddy Treiops, who also designed our bitchin’ double-neck guitar “W” logo. Treiops recently reminded us about a band he saw back in the ’90s called Crash Worship, which sort of took the whole neo-pagan tribal vibe espoused by events like Burning Man to its logical extreme. In fact, if I had to guess, I’d say most former members of the now-defunct Crash Worship (aka Adoración De Rotura Violenta, or ADRV) probably think Burning Man’s gotten pretty lame at this point. Too many safety rules. At a Crash Worship show, safety pretty much went out the window.

Crash Worship started in the mid ’80s in, of all places, San Diego, where a couple of percussionists named Markus Wolff and Simon Cheffins got together and started making music inspired by their shared love of early industrial/experimental bands like Throbbing Gristle and 23 Skidoo. Originally, the band was purely a studio project, but eventually, their live shows would grow to eclipse their recorded output—most of which is, to be honest, a lo-fi mess of post-punk/industrial jam sessions with lots of distorted guitar and tribal drums and not much in the way of recognizable songs.

But oh, those live shows. A Crash Worship concert might begin with the band entering the venue from the street, pushing its way through the audience with mobile drum kits and fire dancers, then assaulting the spectators with strobe lights, fake (or possibly real) blood, wine, whipped cream, ice cubes, smoke, green Jello, small fireworks and god knows what else. Two de facto frontmen, JXL and Fat Jack Torino, served occasionally as vocalists but mainly as “audience manipulators,” running through the crowd to hand out little gifts (fruit, hand percussion, etc.), exhort the wallflowers to get off their asses and dance, and rub various viscous substances on the half-naked bodies of any willing (or sometimes unwilling) participants. People got naked, people got dirty, people got injured. Mostly, the barriers between audience and performer broke down to the point where nearly everyone there felt like they were not so much at a show as participating in some kind of ancient ritual. “I reverted to a PRIMAL state,” is how one witness described it. Whether you believe that or not, it’s pretty clear that a Crash Worship show was a totally unique experience.

Throughout the ’90s, Crash Worship continued to perform throughout the U.S. and Europe, although their reputation for leaving behind a horrible mess meant that fewer and fewer venues were willing to book them. The band also went through numerous lineup changes, the most significant apparently happening in 1996 when Wolff and some other key members quit. After that, a newer member of the band named Quintron seems to have taken a more significant role—in one interview, he even referred to himself as the “leader” of the band, even though Cheffins, JXL and Fat Jack were still part of the group. Quintron’s elaborate puppet shows would now often serve as a prelude to the rest of the group’s show—puppet shows he later developed further with his partner, Miss Pussycat, as part of their New Orleans-based “swamp-tech” act.

By 1999, Crash Worship was finished, leaving a trail of blown minds and tamer projects by various ex-members in their wake. (See below for links to some of them.) Unfortunately, very little video of Crash Worship shows exists, and most of what’s out there is of pretty poor quality—although it’s probably impossible to capture the vibe at a Crash Worship show anyway. Video can’t breathe fire in your face and pour chocolate syrup down your back. Still, this clip gives you some sense of the chaos.

Links:

About weirdestband

Founder of Weirdest Band in the World. Enabler of Jake Manson's binge drinking.

Posted on October 16, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 39 Comments.

  1. I recall coming out of my office walking back to main floor,on that narrow entrance to backstage I was approached by the tall half naked girl with a very devilish smile, as she got closer she wrapped her arms around my neck. I was thinking here we go!! but before I blinked she rubbed my face and eyes with @Tiger balm”
    lol I was burning and laughing at same time !!

  2. Seeing Crash Worship play live was perhaps the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. It was 1992, and a friend and I had gone to a venue in Dallas for a show that was supposed to start at 11pm… but by 1am there was still no band. Apparently, the owners of the venue had been tipped off on how their place was about to get trashed by these guys, and were wisely refusing to allow them to play.

    One person in the audience had a large, mostly empty basement, and offered to let the band play there instead. It actually got going around 3am, and I’ve never seen anything like it. Their act was seriously constricted by the small, dangerously overcrowded space. Not long after the drummers came in, one band member started rapidly twirling around a pair of 3 foot long chains with large flaming balls at the ends of them, occasionally coming within inches of peoples’ faces, including mine. But the (very real!) physical danger was only one ingredient to my personal horror.

    The music wasn’t skillful, or even “good music” — just a ton of not particularly rhythmic drum pounding… but virtuosity wasn’t the point. The point was to evoke a tribal ritual feel, where literally everyone in the audience is swept up into this giant dancing jumping group thing.

    Well, this was during a time in my life when I avoided strangers at all opportunities. Just having another person board the shuttlebus I was on induced stomach-churning anxiety, and any prolonged physical contact (such as when you have to share a bus seat) could easily provoke a panic attack.

    And now: I thought I was just going to a bar to see a band play… and instead, I found myself in a hot, packed, shoulder-to-shoulder, only one exit and it’s waaay over there past that jumping, gyrating mob of people surrounding frenetically dancing drummers and a guy swinging (literal!) giant balls of fire around. And before long, everyone was melding into this unthinking mass…. but me. The lone mote of individuality. And the band could see it (partially because I wasn’t dancing), and repeatedly tried to draw me in with crazy and sometimes dangerous antics, which just increased my panic by being singled out by the dudes everyone else was paying attention to. At the time, I kept thinking of the story where Carlos Castaneda is drawn into a party with a bunch of dangerous drunks, and almost gets killed; don Juan lectures him on how he “made himself available”, opening himself that life-threatening experience. My friend, meanwhile, was in rapture: this unpredictable pounding chaos was exactly his kind of thing.

    We were finally released from the “Basement of Tribal Unity (Except That Dude)” just before sunrise. It was perhaps the most relief I’ve ever felt in my life.

  3. Same Quintron as he of “Drum Buddy” fame?

  4. I’ll add a CW tale…

    We are in a warehouse in Oakland where multiple parties are going on; Crash Worship setting up in one big low ceiling’d room, a rather lame tweeked out rave next door behind a big set of double doors, and a couple other warehouses full of people. CW comes out from behind a big curtain pushing a makeshift Viking ship on wheels. The band is leading the boat, and “up” on top of it there are women in mermaid costumes throwing fresh fruit and pouring box wine into/onto the crowd. They made a circuit of the room, ditched the boat, and took the stage.

    …for a minute. Their next move was to invade Poland! No, wait, anyway, they left the stage, and with most of us in tow, kicked open the doors to the rave, stomped into the middle of the floor, and /threw down/. After a few minutes, back to the main warehouse and I think we brought at least 40 extra people back with us. Successful invasion!

    The cops arrive. They turn on the lights in an attempt to stop the show; from behind the curtain (again) come 4 people, 2 of them wearing big Mardi Gras heads and riding on the shoulders of the the other 2. They have Broom sticks in hand and run around the room breaking every single lightbulb, throwing us all back into darkness. Next the cops shut down power to the room from the main breaker. Not 20 seconds pass before we hear the roar of gas generators and the show is back on. Eventually the cops succeeded in killing all amplification, but the drummers kept pounding away for another hour, and the wine/blood/flour/fruit kept coming, and most of us would end up burning our clothes the next day, and by the holy claws of Klortho the magnificent it was a beautiful and chaotic evening of unbridled debauchery.

    This might have also been the show some dumb kid set off a half stick of dynamite inside the room, showering us with broken bulb debris and ceiling plaster and making some of us temporarily deaf from the auditory shock.

    I saw CW 8-10 times in and around the bay area in the mid to late 90s. Not every show was quite as crazy as that one, but they were all CLOSE.

    • stacy barenoski

      SWEET! I was there too! We were probably at a bunch of the same shows. I lived in the Bay Area from 1986-2005. Saw EVER-E CW show around and down to LA. All fantastic times, except the one at Maritime Hall w Master Musicians of Jajouka- that space was just “not right” for them. Still fun. Best show I saw at that particular venue was The Creatures(Siouxsie) and John Cale (VU). I miss the IBeam- SO many great shows there! Butthole Surfers, Swans, Psychic TV! BIG L-ov-E! <3

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 404 other followers

%d bloggers like this: