In the not too distant past, I reviewed Dying in Fast Forward, the new album from Senryu. Well, the other night, I had the pleasure of attending its release show at the Pilot Light in Knoxville. The night opened with Katie and The Bass Drums. It’s actually just one dude, and his incredibly humorous musical musings, which were usually relating to sex. Arrison Kirby played next. One patron of the evening described his electro/guitar music as “tropical disco,” though I can’t say I agree with this label. Finally, the boys we were all there to see, Senryu, took the stage. The crowd closed in.
Senryu entered the stage, donning a strange assortment of costumes and accessories. White lights shining up from their feet gave a bright, ethereal feel to the stage arrangement. Then, from the beginning to the end, they exploded. Granted, I’ve seen Senryu several times and would, frankly, expect nothing less from them. This time, however, the explosion was so well calculated that I swear there was an IED specialist on hand to see it through. (But maybe that was just Wayne Bedsoe.)
Most of the material performed was from the new release, as well as Pssst and The Guilty Party Rages On, the two full lengths that preceded it. Yet, it seemed there was something intrinsically different going on behind it all. Their upbeat, indie pop was certainly in tact. Surrounding and weaving within it, however, were moments of what sounded like prog rock. There also was epic abstraction in spots, slipping and sliding around the stage, but never cutting its umbilical cord from motherdrummer, Steven Rodgers.
Rodgers’ drumming is something that deserves a special mention here. Always precise and forward anyway, this evening left me in particular awe of his abilities. It wasn’t just that he could keep a beat, but that he could fire off a machine gun into that aforementioned explosion. So quick and direct, it boggled my mind at how he could fit so many nuances into any single moment.
Amidst and despite all of this, Senryu remains a strange paradox. They are a nationally touring band, who can certainly bring it with the best of them. Frontman, Wil Wright, is an incredibly gifted song writer and musician who is incredibly dedicated to his craft. There are few musical units out there who can touch this level of showmanship and ability. And yet, Senryu has still but only chipped away a relatively small bit of that proverbial glass ceiling, even though they hail from the same town as Bonnaroo creator, AC Entertainment. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure they are quite capable of making their own way to where they ultimately need to be. Damn, though. If Ashley Capps, or some other industry mogul, would just spare a little bit of their own precious firepower for these kids, Senryu’s awesome explosion could just maybe evolve into total rapture.
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