Tag: Pilot Light
Hip hop shows, perhaps more so than other music performances, are very hit or miss. A group can either dress it up, like Outkast, or dumb it down, like Grand Buffet. The best of these offer something more than a dude and his homeys rattling off karaoke. Live instruments are always a plus. A good DJ who knows what he’s doing can win me over. Sometimes all you need are twenty or more people on stage, falling over each other or humping or whatever. There are a million ways to go on the stage. Prior to his performance, I was hoping hard that Busdriver (real name Regan John Farquhar) would not be lazily rhyming over an iPod hooked into a d/i box.
And thankfully, he didn’t.
What he did do, was take the stage at the Pilot Light rather unexpectedly, during the time that most of us thought was going to be an intermission between Abstract Rude and himself. There was hardly anyone in the room. I even thought to myself from outside, “Why the hell would the DJ be playing Busdriver if the guy’s taking the stage in a few minutes?” Ah, but there he was, crowned with Christmas lights and doing what he does. As the people outside slowly realized the show was moving on without them, they gathered round and the intensity of it all increased.
Verbally, he is pretty amazing. Far beyond all the autotuned garbage on the radio, Busdriver’s voice is distinct and his skill is often quick and always precise. Backing up that voice was a thunderous onslaught of beats and samples, which he controlled, in part, by himself. He also had a guy, apparently named Matt, at the back of the stage, working what looked like an MPC and occasional guitar. Matt seemed uncomfortable, at first, but eventually was right there with it. I can’t say he seemed to miss a beat, regardless.
One of the beautiful aspects of this set was the truly punk rock ethic to it. As Matt beat his pads, Busdriver pressed buttons and twisted knobs, throwing the whole thing into a frequent and intentional disarray. The cacophony of noise never failed to segue nicely into bouncy and epic beats, evening everything out and working the room into a frenzy.
My only complaint of the evening was the song, “Avantcore,” which I had no idea was so popular around here. It began with some strange disjunctive omission of notes here and there, which seemed interesting at first. The problem is that it never really got going. It seemed to drag on much slower than I’ve ever heard on disc. I’m not sure if this was an intentional choice by the artist, but it was iffy on the stage. Thankfully, the energy of all else made well up for this single snafu of the evening.
This tour is to promote Busdriver’s new record, Jhelli Beam. Hopefully I’ll get a review of it in soon enough.
Here is the video for “Me Time,” the first single from Jhelli Beam:
Here are the rest of his tourdates, in case you want to catch him near you (and you should):
SEP 23 – BIRMINGHAM, AL @ BOTTLETREE
SEP 24 – BATON ROUGE, LA @ CHELSEAS
SEP 25 – DALLAS, TX @ THE CAVERN
SEP 26 – AUSTIN, TX @ RED 7
SEP 27 – HOUSTON, TX @ WALTERS ON WASHINGTON
SEP 28 – SAN ANTONIO, TX @ ROCK BOTTOM
SEP 30 – EL PASO, TX @ BLACK MARKET
OCT 01 – TEMPE, AZ @ CLUB RED
Lastly, here are some MP3’s:
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.
Do yourself a favor and download Senryu’s entire catalog by clicking here.
So the other night I decided to hit up a benefit show at The Pilot Light in Knoxville’s Old City. It was to support the Knox Girls Rock Camp, which I think teaches young ladies to play instruments and be happy or something. There were about ten or so bands playing, including Milo, Flak Jaket and others. It was all mostly attention holding, if not pretty damn good at times. Then, around 11:30 maybe, it became transcendental.
It was at this time that the local five piece, Chore Boys, took the stage. I had heard about them for a little while now, but never got the blessed opportunity to witness it in person until the night in question. My expectations were superseded.
Chore Boys maintain a chaotic flamboyance, similar to of Montreal, alongside a brash, old school punk rock ethic somewhere in the area of Dead Kennedys. It’s was difficult to pin down who the hell is doing what as they all moved aimlessly about each other like larger than life cartoons. Primary vocalist, Jared Stoneberg, alternating between a bullhorn and the microphone, flailed around between the audience and the stage, appearing incoherently determined amidst strobe lights and flying beer cans.
Everything about Chore Boys is raucous, down and dirty. Oddly, however, only the most prudent prude would be put off by them. It’s something akin to watching bloody, newborn rats blindly scramble over each other in a nest…with music.
Though it does them no justice, whatsoever, check out a video from one of their past performances below.