Nothing really says DIY like a good ol’ house show, and nothing says underground like bands that have forged their own distinct sound. Last night, standing in a crowded living room in Silicon Valley, I gazed and gawked. Fingers flashed and blurred. Feet flew over massive and elaborate pedalboards. Surely, math has never before been this rock.
Or rock been this math. You know, whichever.
A solid line-up of friends and associates, the show opened with Equator, a jam band with D-Boonesque guitar, poppin’ bass, and a baritone sax. The thick and tasty jams, about a half hour in, started to seem directionless, but was still quite enjoyable. Then again, I think that’s most jam bands. The sober people applauded and the stoned people applauded harder.
Next on deck, straight from the OC came Hollow Ran. Suffice to say that after seeing that performance, I have a new pedal on my want-list. Although there were nearly a dozen pedals being masterfully worked by busy feet, the Super Shifter caught my eye, as it made the entire room go into slow-mo every time he hit it. In fact, the guitarist for Hollow Ran seemed to spend the entire set on one foot, his other craftily adjusting knobs, setting levels, and warping the sick sounds of his already unreasonable tap’n’shred.
Finally came Floral, the band I’d come to see. I’d known the guitarist since his punk rock days back when our bands were equally pissed off and equally terrible in that beautiful way that only punk is, and what a few semesters at Berklee had done to him was simply mindblowing. With only a compressor to cut out feedback and static, his high treble tapping brought the room to a mathy frenzy, a mathy frenzy meaning that people were bouncing around in place.
I thought it was odd that Floral wasn’t headlining their own house show, but once Sumdeus took the stage I saw why. The first tip off that this would be interesting was when the guy in the audience with the Napalm Death hoodie unzipped to reveal a Grateful Dead bear, popped on some John Lennon sunglasses, and picked up a Flying V. What happened next was a half hour of one long hostile jam. While a solid rhythm section kept some semblance of togetherness, this terrifying grind-hippie spewed out an epic, bending solo that had no beginning and no end.
Although the influences are apparent, none of these bands came off as knockoffs or posers. Everyone had their own thing to do, and they did the ever-lovin’ sweet hell out of it. You can find their tasty musical treats below, and you can catch Floral at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco on January 7th.