The Thrones (h2so4 11)
live in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco

The Thrones make me sick. Of four shows I saw over the course of two weeks, three left my guts shaking. Standing still at the fourth show, I could feel the legs of my pants trembling above my skin.

The Thrones are Joe Preston, a double-necked guitar, three enormous speaker cabinets, three amplifiers, a sampler, and a good number of foot switches. At Guitar Center in Los Angeles (home of the Rock Block), The Thrones embarked on an ultimately futile search for something called a "space station." The Thrones are the future.

They depend on no one. If I could have heard more lyrics than the two words "my mountain!", I am sure I could use them here to illustrate this point. But alas, inadequate public address systems prohibited full comprehension of what I am positive is lyrical genius. Thankfully, though, the speakers were usually just loud enough to reap the rich quality and tone of Joe's voice roaring through the orchestrated din. The sole fully-audible vocal delivery was consistent on each night during the performance of "Jango," an Italian tear-jerker that The Thrones learned phonetically and thus only understand on some empathetic level. Sung entirely karaoke-style, "Jango" presents The Thrones as balladeer and includes an incredibly concise guitar line to introduce the final emotive crescendo and cascade to the finish.

Concision is something with which The Thrones are fraught. There seems to be nothing superfluous within a song or within a perfectly constructed set. Composition is limited to outbursts of skillfully replicated bass lines, that are repeated only as much as is necessary to reach the listener's grasp, and chords heavy enough to wind up feeling as though they possess physical weight. Any given performance is mapped out, programmed to sequence the individual compositions into a constantly ebbing, colliding, and expanding frame of sound. "Jango" was not the only song that made me think of karaoke.

The Thrones are an innovative solution to what can be considered the mind/body problem or split of the convoluted and inconsequential world of rock music. There is an inherent split between the construction of a piece and its recording and/or repeated performance. Maybe where I am heading is more toward the idea of the simulacrum, repeated performance of a single composition as the simulation of a formerly experienced expression of an idea or a passion.

Karaoke is the simulation of an expression which one has never owned. The karaoke performer fills the shoes of a public figure ostensibly an artist, who has recorded a singular expression takes this artist's place, becomes the artist/performer. The ordinary becomes the extraordinary. A comparison: I have always been uncomfortable recording final vocal tracks because this process could not be farther from the actual experience of developing and playing songs with a group of other people. Recording vocals, I am required to sit by myself in a room with headphones on. Through the headphones, I hear a recording of myself and my fellow bandmates playing a song.My task is then to sing into a microphone, trying not to move too much in any direction (levels have been set by the engineer according to a particular placement of my mouth in relation to the microphone). I am then filling the shoes of me, taking the place of me, becoming me.

The Thrones' whole project is this. Every performance is karaoke to an original composition by The Thrones. This is not just repetition but removal and revolution. Every performance is a rebirth of the song, that much more removed from the original conception, but that much more the conception.

—Corrina Peipon