Everyone Who Thinks They Know What’s Going On Doesn’t

By Greg DillonMarch 30, 2024

Everyone Who Thinks They Know What’s Going On Doesn’t
KIM GORDON with TWIG HARPER, The Regent Theater, Los Angeles, March 27, 2024.

Sometimes when I’m trying to fall asleep, I imagine I’m a ghost in a strange house. I rearrange wall art, organize the fridge, and try to crank the ignition on a dream. I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately; in the era of hyperstimulation, I don’t think I’m the only one. Out of this moment emerges multidisciplinary noise rock legend Kim Gordon’s brilliant new record, The Collective. Together with No Home Record producer Justin Raisen, who spray-paints industrial trap beats over spoken word and vicious guitar, Gordon investigates the vanishing border between where one feeling ends and another begins.

The hometown show drew a sold-out crowd to the Regent Theater, eager to see commotion in the flesh. Lone opener Twig Harper took the stage to begin the night. Looking like a mad scientist on a sting operation, he loomed over a folding table covered in wires and triggered a barrage of haunted house scores and trapdoor SFX. I saw several spectators genuinely startle-jump as if struck by compressed air. Midway, a chorus of revving guitar loops materialized a tether in the tornado, until he pulled out the rug, and we fell back into the malfunctioning carnival. “Everyone who thinks they know what’s going on doesn’t, so fuck it,” Twig quipped. We embraced his chaos.

After a thorough sound check, Gordon emerged in all black with band in tow, and before we could get our footing, she unleashed Collective opener “BYE BYE” in full force, its to-do-list lyrics dripping under syncopated hi-hats. If there was ever a doubt how the album might translate, it was eviscerated by Madi Vogt’s pummeling stutter beat, Camilla Charlesworth’s rippling bass, and Sarah Register’s bomb cyclone guitar. Gordon paused to thank artist Alex Hubbard for providing the night's visuals—a perfectly complementary mutation comprising vintage TVs, scenes of band practice, industrial landscapes, liquid metal blobs, and at least one cat. The song’s climax split the earth open, and what happened next was a whirlwind tour of the new album, with a performance that unfurled like phosphorescent flower petals taking root.

During “I’m A Man,” Gordon lassoed a hand in the air, embodying the song’s masc archetype, while cattle-prodding the chorus: “Take my hand / Jump on my back.” In the midst of “Psychedelic Orgasm,” I got nudged into someone wearing a shirt that said “Failed Artist” on it, right as Gordon chanted “L.A. is an art scene” into our shining faces. By then, we had become “The Believers,” led into a feedback storm, the eye of which broke into a near–thrash metal fury with full-on head-bangs. Gordon wrapped the set with a darkwave bow in the form of “Dream Dollar,” roaming the edge of the stage with jaguar swagger.

The giddiness was all-consuming as the band returned for their encore of No Home Record–era highlights. On “Cookie Butter,” Vogt added a maraca to the groove, while Register tattooed her guitar neck with a screwdriver, leading to the song’s battle-cry finale. Their call was answered when an intergenerational mosh pit formed during the Western punk stomper “Hungry Baby.” Gordon grabbed her guitar maybe five times, and only when the moment came to kick in the door and let the backdraft engulf us. We were happy to burn. The show ended, only because it had to, and the crowd became a cluster of amoebas feeding each other dopey smiles. The rest of the night was an adrenalized blur: a jazz club nightcap, an easy Uber ride. I remember looking through the fridge near 1:00 a.m., but I don’t remember going to sleep. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure I’ve woken up yet.


Photo of Kim Gordon by contributor.

LARB Short Take live event reviews are published in partnership with the nonprofit Online Journalism Project and the Independent Review Crew.

LARB Contributor

Greg Dillon is a writer, filmmaker, and musician based in Los Angeles. You can find his music here.


Did you know LARB is a reader-supported nonprofit?

LARB publishes daily without a paywall as part of our mission to make rigorous, incisive, and engaging writing on every aspect of literature, culture, and the arts freely accessible to the public. Help us continue this work with your tax-deductible donation today!