Alt-Nation: Lightning Bolt’s Latest and Other Electrifying Shows

Lightning Bolt by Natalja Kent - Jump Press PageLightning Bolt – Fantasy Empire (Thrill Jockey)

The first time I experienced the rush of Lightning Bolt live was sometime in the late ’90s. I was talking to someone when Lightning Bolt, without any fanfare, launched a full-on assault. I could barely see through the crowd that was going apeshit huddled around the band playing on the floor, per usual. I had to get closer.  Their intensity was like a tractor beam sucking you into the fire of the pit with the adrenaline rush of a rock show. They get saddled with the noise rock tag, which is understandable to a certain extent. But their tunes had this element of experimental jazz where they pound and carve up squalls of feedback to push the song into another dimension.

Lightning Bolt will be forever linked to the legendary Fort Thunder — an abandoned warehouse in Eagle Square started by drummer Brian Chippendale and his college roommate. Fort Thunder really harkened the rise of the whole Providence noise rock and Olneyville warehouse scene that is still going today. Fort Thunder grew to host national and local shows as an under-the-radar word-of-mouth thing till the city stepped in and shut it down.

But nobody has been able to stop Lighting Bolt. They continue to roll like a freight train into their 21st year as a band. This month Lightning Bolt will release Fantasy Empire, their first full-length album since 2009’s Earthly Delights, although they did release an EP titled Oblivion Hunter in 2012. Recording at Machines With Magnets in Pawtucket, Fantasy Empire captures the raw power of Lightning Bolt’s live performances as much as possible. The album opens with what sounds like a call to arms with the manic marching beat of “The Metal East.” “Runaway Train” reminds me of a cross between stoner rock and industrial kraut rock. Lightning Bolt has always had more going on within the song than merely noise over a drum beat. Tracks like “Dream Genie” have bassist Brian Gibson adding a prog-metal blitzkrieg over the relentless pounding of Chippendale’s backbeat. Chippendale’s vocals are buried in the mix that functions more as an additional sonic texture than anything poetic. On some tunes, like “Snow White (& The 7 Dwarves Fans),” this has the effect of adding a psych rock tinge.   Lightning Bolt’s legacy lives on in the underground shows and Olneyville noise bands of today, but on Fantasy Empire they sound like a band that cares only about writing their next chapter.

Lightning Bolt have no Rhode Island shows announced at this time, but you can catch them up at The Sinclair in Cambridge, Mass., on May 17.  

The Silks & Daddy Long Legs

The road to South By Southwest Festival for The Silks starts with a hometown show at Fete. The Silks’ sound is reminiscent of early ’70s country-stained rock ‘n’ roll with the blood of the blues. I’ve written about The Silks so many times in this space that I’m not sure what to say other than to implore you to go to the show and pick up their debut album, Last American Band, if you haven’t already. An added bonus is having Daddy Long Legs on this bill; they blew me away a few weeks ago.  Daddy Long Legs are on the renowned garage rock label, Norton Records, where every band seems to be great. Daddy Long Legs hold their own against the lofty label’s roster and put on a hell of a show.

The Silks & Daddy Long Leg will rock Fete on March 7.

The Quahogs

The Quahogs have been saddled with the “Deer Tick Light” label for a few years.  It’s not totally fair to throw labels on bands just because they mix folk, country, and rock ‘n’ roll like a more successful band. The Quahogs have been developing their own sound for the past few years and have recently been recording some new tracks, which I look forward to hearing. Till then, go check them out with some other great local bands at Machines With Magnets!

The Quahogs, Haunt The House, Dan Dodd, and The Sugar Honey Iced Tea will play Machines With Magnets on March 7.  


The ever-notorious Dwarves return to Providence after several years of banishment. That’s nothing new, as controversy has long been the calling card of the band; singer Blag Dahlia and guitarist HeWhoCanNotBeNamed have been known to raise a ruckus. Dwarves specialize in churning out minute-and-a-half tunes that mix shock value with sugar hooks. You don’t know what punk rock is if you’ve never seen the Dwarves. Get there early for locals Skinny Millionaires (congrats to new dad Mike O’D) and The Worried!

Dwarves, Skinny Millionaires, and The Worried bring the rock to Firehouse 13 on March 14.

Black No. 1 (Type O Negative Tribute) 

What’s a Saturday night like without hitting up a place with a full dungeon setup complete with whipping station and medieval rack? If you answered boring, then check out Manchester 65’s Vice Night, which is the best fetish night in all of West Warwick. As an added bonus, Black No. 1 (Type O Negative Tribute Band) will be playing their first show. So all you Doms and subs get ready to get down and unleash your inner demons. And yes, there will be cage dancing. Wooo!

Black No. 1 (Type O Negative Tribute) plays Vice Night at the Manchester 65 in West Warwick on March 14.

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