​Lightning Bolt The #1 Legion, Calgary AB, June 25

​Lightning Bolt The #1 Legion, Calgary AB, June 25
Photo: Steve Louie
It's hard to believe, but Lightning Bolt were once a hype band. In the early 2000s, the Providence, Rhode Island noise scene was something that everyone wanted a piece of, and they've got the press clippings to prove it. It's even harder to believe that a former hype band could be this vital, energetic and, frankly, incredible so many years later.
The thing about Lightning Bolt is that they simply can't be contained. The Brians Chippendale and Gibson are a pair of true artists and absolute musical impresarios who, despite their ability to solo for hours on end, are generous enough to write party-friendly pop songs.
The result is a strange sort of music that exists outside of genre, time or hype. Lightning Bolt have managed to make focused music that simultaneously sounds like Jimi Hendrix, Slayer, Wolf Eyes, Led Zeppelin, Man is the Bastard, Gene Krupa and the ridiculous guitar guy from Mad Max: Fury Road.
Until recently, the band have almost always played on floors, but they were more than able to fill the Legion's stage with energy. Gibson turned his bass into three guitars' worth of instrumentation, soloing on the high notes, punching guts with the heavy notes and washing over us with hisses of noise. Chippendale's octopus-armed drumming was the real star of the stage, though, as he beat the shit out of his skins with a frantic urgency. Then they'd both stop on a dime, proving they operate as one weird unit.
Even with a handful of technical difficulties with Gibson's amp, the Lightning Bolt set was a piece of perfection, the stuff of legend. It proved that we may have been taking Lightning Bolt for granted all along. They're often treated like a novelty act because of their face masks, pedalboards and ramshackle instruments (the bassist uses a banjo string, after all), but when Lightning Bolt are onstage it's hard to argue that they're not the best rock band on the face of the earth. This was one for the books.