Helado Negro - From the deep south of the US with roots to South America comes this intriguing artist. He (Roberto Carlos Lange) performs all vocals and runs the electronics and beats and is joined by a live bass player. The first cut is a mesmerizing chant with no beats and a slow rumbling bass noise. He jolted the stunned sold-out audience with more expected electronica thereafter. Yet there were many unique influences perhaps from tropicalia through many electronic explorers since. I really enjoyed his vocal style as it remind me of HR covering David Bowie's style. I did hear some of the Eno/Bowie style in the music as well (or it could just be me listening to the new David Bowie album a lot this week). The bass went more into dub heavy basslines for the rest of the set and was a welcome presence. I normally prefer at least one more live instrument, but the creativity was well above that of most electronic acts, that this 34 minute set took hold of me as well as the crowd. When you are able to mix darkness with warmth, you are doing something very special.
Ra Ra Rasputin - This local dance/electronic outfit has a solid reputation around these parts. They do not quite fit into my world as I really do not grasp this style as well as a majority of club goers. I nearly walked out when the bass on the first cut made Jah Wobble sound like Tiny Tim. This was painful, but to there credit they asked people if the sound was ok or not and somehow they and the soundman figured it all out and they sounded loud and strong for the rest of the 40 minutes on stage. The vocals are really quite good and make things pleasant enough, except for a couple times where I was anticipating Billy Idol singing 'white wedding' in the next phrase. They do have a certain charm and even got this old curmudgeon to enjoy their set a little more tonight than I had expected after that start.
Sinkane - Although the electronics are on stage, the four band members all have guitars, drums, and basses as they create some seriously tripped out prog-psychee pop rock music. The first cut had a western motif embedded deeply in the thick stew of sound--twang never sounded so modern. It was driving through a ghost town in a convertible with your GPS guiding you to the urban dance club a few hours away. These are lush melodies with a gutsy foundation of rock music and intricate treatments of one guitar along with the vocoder vocals. They reminded me a lot of Os Mutantes, had they formed a band about ten years ago (not 47 years ago). This is fun and the band is starting to make a name for themselves and was pleased that this was their first sold-out show that they have had. A good and fitting way to end their full US tour before heading off to Europe next month. This is the kind of music for people that like krautrock, old progressive music, psyche moves, but want to delve deeper into the modern world or conversely, modern music fans that want to be pushed and challenged a bit while still grooving to the beat.
Quote of the Night: "We're Helado Negro and if you don't understand what it means, it is 'Black Ice Cream'".