To say that Andrew Landry and Evan Cvitanovic – better known as the noisy, abstract and mostly instrumental New Orleans duo High In One Eye – have garnered a loyal following over the past four years would a monumental understatement. To some they’re the torchbearers of a perpetually-struggling instrumental and math rock scene; to others the riveting, erratic interplay between the fragmented noise patterns of Landry’s scattershot guitar riffs and Cvitanovic’s cutting, watertight drumming is simply something incapable of ever getting old.
On August 2 at the Howlin’ Wolf Den, in an opening slot before fellow local math rockers the Dongles and Cincinnati’s legendary Moth, High In One Eye were not only both of those things, but also the most punk live act in the city. Only days after a Landry suffered a possible tour-cancelling injury to his middle fret finger, the two-piece was inexplicably ready to play on schedule and with no plan to hold back their intensity. Not all that ironically, Landry’s physical injury both complemented the band’s unyielding “couldn’t give a shit” persona and demonstrated an atypically humble commitment to performing live.
On any other night, the crux of a High In One Eye show is the band’s spectacular ability to dismantle traditional song structures passage by passage and supplant them with overtly avant-garde arrangements without totally losing their core foundations, a practice that can be alienating in a live setting (after all, a band doesn’t emphatically upend the status quo by not terrifying a large part of its prospective audience while absolutely enthralling the people in its niche). However, tonight Landry and Cvitanovic went gracefully beyond the abstract with a chaotic, free jazz-imbued set of anarchic, anti-traditionalist freakouts; the unhinged energy of which left spectators – a group of both casual listeners and rabid fans – visibly shaken and lauding praise upon the band both in the immediate aftermath of the chaotic performance and for days afterward.
It may seem haphazard to say that the best punk band in New Orleans doesn’t even play punk rock; but while their chosen style of music in no way correlates itself to Ramonian-era punk, High In One Eye’s manic yet highly contemplative and complex approach to performing for an audience comes as close to that of those celebrated originators of the genre as I can imagine.
editor’s note: file photo