Few times have I had to opportunity to see something like this; a total army of musicians swelling the room with sheets of minimalist snake-charm guitar action that could, excuse the overused phrase, rock the house like nothing else. Once was with Glenn Branca's 100 guitar ensemble at the World Trade Center plaza (only a week before 9/11/01), and another time was hosting Jonathan Kane's band February here in the WFMU studios (Real Audio) a couple months back. But last night at Tonic was an extra-special event indeed, the first time avant-downtown legend Rhys Chatham had performed to a New York audience in ages (he's been living in France) and it killed from the second the man, back to the crowd, raised his hand and opened the gates to electrified, controlled mayhem. The group housed long-time members Kane on drums and Ernie Brooks on bass, who also performed a great avant-boogie set last nightalong with four of the six guitarists Chatham utilized. The sound was just heavenly. Never has the minimalist ethic been channeled through one man's filter in a way that could evoke a dozen Neu's stampeding down the Autobahn; the massive walls of surging, alternately-tuned axes buzzed and flurried in harmonic/disharmonic unity/opposition insanely around the concrete walls of the club, overtones hovered like deranged bees, layer by layer the compositions exploded and finally crashed. Chatham finally strapped on a guitar himself and joined the proceedings, and the final piece revolved around each guitarist being ordered to randomly detune and play short blasts in looped succession evoking a glorious traffic jam, while Kane and Brooks held down a bulldozer rhythm right out of Public Image's Second Edition songbook. Chatham, Kane, and fellow Table of the Elements roster minimalist Arnold Dreyblatt are doing four U.S. dates this week, by all means get out to see and hear this amazing spectacle. Here's "An Angel Moves Too Fast To See" (Real Audio) from Chatham's box anthology released a couple years back, a composition in great form live last night as well.