Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Show Review: Tera Melos, Marnie Stern and Fugue @ Heirloom Arts

Lovely Marnie

Words: Monica Lyons
Pics: John Kritzman Full set of photos here!

On Saturday, March 5th, 2011, the Heirloom Arts Theater presented an impressive lineup of performances by Fugue, Tera Melos, and Marnie Stern. I had never been to the Heirloom Arts Theater after it was renovated from what used to be the Empress Ballroom, a raunchy, all-ages venue holding shows from ska showcases to the pits of CT hardcore. I’m not knocking the Empress Ballroom, as it definitely allowed for a non-discriminatory holding place for Connecticut scenesters, myself included. However, walking through its familiar doors, I was impressed with its cleanliness and modern renovations. It appears as though the Empress Ballroom has matured into a more professional and structural venue, promoting itself as "Danbury’s cultural and artistic alternative."

It took a while for people to show up, but eventually there was a pretty good crowd going. Fugue had already set up on the floor of the venue instead of on the towering stage, which was a good move on their behalf. Everyone was able to gather almost in a circle around the band as the lights cut out and a green spotlight engulfed the band. I have seen Fugue a couple times before but their creative energy never ceases to amaze me. Their sharp synchronization consumes the room, ranging from powerfully fast-paced to melodic and smooth. They create their own sound of rock-jazz fusion, even incorporating a new element into one of their songs that night that I had never seen before. Fugue’s sorcerer, Mike DiCrescenzo, took out a lighter and brought its flame toward an optical theremin, which produced an eerie, ghostly sound, complimenting their unique sound. Fugue also manipulates the use of movie clips into their songs before flowing into an array of rhythmic melodies. After some minor difficulties, in which some people were nice enough to offer up their own capos, they ended their performance with a new song. Fugue is currently recording new material to be released in the summer, which I’m sure won’t disappoint.

Fugue light it up
Tera Melos took to the stage for a sound check as the second performance of the night. It was uncomfortable looking almost straight up at the band during their performance, but maybe I’m just not used being so close up to bands on such tall stages. Despite the initial disconnection of height difference, Tera Melos expelled their energy onto the crowd and brought them to their level. The California native band pushes the limits of what is math rock and twists it to produce something completely new and outside the box. Complemented by the use of effect pedals and samplers, Tera Melos brings wildly quick and creative rhythms and abstract dynamics that flow in and out of each other, creating a completed puzzle of songs. They’re anything but traditional with their odd song structures, smooth vocals, and intangible melodic brilliance. The band played a lot of songs off their latest album, Patagonian Rats, as well as new material from their recently released EP, Zoo Weather. Tera Melos seemed truly confident during their performance, in which guitarist Nick Reinhart commented on their current standing: "Maybe we didn’t know what we were trying to get good at, or it wasn’t in front of our faces, but I think we finally got good at what we’re trying to achieve." Tera Melos delivered a captivating performance that night through their artistic ambiance and refreshingly different sound. At the end of the set, Reinhart brought his guitar toward his face as bassist Nathan Latona dropped his bass to the ground, reverb still echoing throughout the stage.

Tera Melos shred face

Marnie Stern, who has been on tour with Tera Melos since February, took to the stage for the last performance of the night. It was disappointing that a large portion of the crowd left after Tera Melos performed and didn’t even give her a chance to showcase her talent. I had read about the female songwriter and guitarist’s acclaimed finger tapping skills and was really curious to see what it was all about. Marnie Stern was literally shredding up on stage as her nimble fingers effortlessly tapped individual notes up and down the neck of her guitar. This is especially prominent in her performance of the song Transformer. Her constant smiling and graceful appearance almost made this technique look easy. Marnie Stern’s soft, playful conversation with her bassist came as opposite to her strong vocals and wide range of pitch, which synced up immaculately to the rapid riffs of her guitar. Her style is appealing and unique, incorporating genres such as experimental and noise rock. Though her sound was somewhat random and piercing at times, Marnie Stern shows a sense of individualism which positively sets her apart from other female artists in the music scene. Fugue, Tera Melos, and Marnie Stern all incorporated their own distinctive sounds and uncommon flair to create a complementary and impressive lineup for the Heirloom Art’s Theaters new reputation. They certainly won me over.

1 comment:

Virtual Sound said...

Excellent photos, I just saw Marnie Stearn and Tera Melos at the Vera Project in Seattle, didn't get any really cool photos though. I blogged about it here (including some video):