Friday, I took the time to actually play tourist, although once again in a non-standard fashion: I convinced a hostelmate to trek with me up to the Bronx to explore the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Tropicalia exhibit they have running. I’ve been on a
I later indulged in two sets at Tonic. First up were
At the conclusion of the film, Susie sat behind a glittering pink drum kit, and Roberto sat on his cajon and manned the laptop. Over the course of the set, Susie would move from kit to kulintang (the traditional set of Filipino gongs) and keyboards/vocals, and Roberto would run from the cajon back to the kit. The juxtaposition of drumming styles defined their roles in the group, more generally: Susie the colourist, with immaculate touch and delicacy, but not afraid to cut loose when needed; Roberto the groover with a similar ear for nuance. The music was drawn from their new record, Dialects, and merged the traditional music they discovered with electronic flourishes. I’d never heard Roberto play kit before, but his Bonham-esque breaks made total sense to me knowing his postizo drum style; nor had I heard Susie sing before, and she has a very fragile, delicate voice (as she does when speaking).
The second set was Droid, a band I’ve heard of through ye olde MySpace. The only player whose rep I knew beforehand was keyboardist Adam Holzman, and it was a treat to see and hear him. It was kind of surprising that the keyboardist in a live-tronica band would be the one with the least amount of gear. Jordan McLean had a regular trumpet, pocket trumpet, and some weird trumpet-with-French-horn-valve-system hybrid, as well as an arsenal of pedals; Kyoshi Matsuyama had a cabinet taller than he; and ringleader/drummer Amir Ziv had a startling array of cymbals and cowbells, including a large garbage can lid converted to a ride.
It took me a while to figure out what they were going for, and to hear what the concept of the band was. I felt at times that the soundscapes Holzman and McLean created were separated from each other and conflicting, while it seemed to take a while for Matsuyama and Ziv to lock in. There were moments of development, and then when Holzman decided to unleash, Jan Hammer style, on his Moog Voyager, everything else seemed to gel for the rest of the set. I understand the desire to not groove outright for an hour, and to take listeners on a journey via subversion, but I think they could have been more effective. The other problem was sound, not in the house but on stage – they had a very brief and limited soundcheck, which is never a good idea with that amount of gear and processing.
Last night was (as titled by Joshua Sneider) the Pulse Hanukkah Slam. After once again walking the wrong damn way out of the