Don’t panic. Not now.
You’re at a party. You're in a dank, crumbling loft space filled with a writhing mass of 200 sweating kids and blue coils of stale smoke, and you're right in the center of it. The four guys tweaking their instruments on stage are called Caves, and all of them are bouncy and gaunt and semi-professional nostril flarers by the looks of it. Some girl's breasts are pressed up against your back and even if you wanted to move you couldn't. Sipping your beer is an exercise in gymnastics and timing, it's so crowded. The kid in front of you keeps tilting his head back and spraying a sticky light-catching mist of cheap vodka into the air, and no one can get him to stop. If that wasn’t enough, you just saw a guy flash a knife at Brian Morris, the dimpled drummer, for winking at the dude's girlfriend. Someone in front of a humming monitor is wearing a large and creepy panda mask. Jake Carey, the singer, is adjusting his mic stand, seemingly oblivious to the girl at his feet who is clearly dry humping his florescent hi-tops. She's weeping, too. The band hasn’t even started playing yet.
Caves launch into their first song and you can feel it immediately in your chest, a sonic bowling ball to the ribcage. David Benedetti spits on the panda head as he and Jake coax strange noises out of their guitars, sounds that emulate the poisonous violin chops that usually precede on-screen butchery. Tim West begins to rhythmically assault the bass, each calculated pluck both thick and dirty. This turns the crowd into rabid animals.
Just when Caves seem to settle into a sound, they speed it up and strip it down until it's sinister. Brian lays pulsing Public-Enemy drums underneath, creating a driving pastoral that borders on deranged. Their wildness is almost mathematical, a perpetually collapsing star on a short leash, never quite fully out of control, but hot and close enough to singe your eyelashes.
Somehow, through practice or talent or devotion or passion or breeding, Caves are as tight on stage as they are on their album, executing every syncopated plot point perfectly, and when you close your eyes you can't tell which direction the sound is coming from. They are, in essence, the soundtrack to a never-made Hitchcock film about love-crazed, epileptic, murderous teenagers, if scored by the Clash. Illicit and catchy, every song a call to arms. The sound is swollen and veiny with throbbing, planetary force. And people are dancing like drunken rag dolls.
It's immediately apparent that this music is eponymously sorrowful and violent. It's music for fighting and fucking. When you realize you aren't doing either, you drop your beer on a pair of copulating lovebirds and take a parabolic swing at the guy in front of you. As your knuckles kiss his temple, you wonder if anything else will make you feel this way again.
- Simon Goetz (2008)