Black Moth Super Rainbow @ The Empty Bottle, Chicago 9/11/08
Few bands are worth waiting through two hours of over the top, arty music for; I was nearly prepared to walk out of the Empty Bottle two Thursday’s ago because I was pretty sure Black Moth Super Rainbow wasn’t going to make me forget the previous two hours of shitty music. After dragging a cigarette out for as long as I possibly could, the last opener finally finished and I decided to wait to see what BMSR had to offer.
Their set up was fast and efficient and the Pittsburgh group was ready to roll a mere fifteen minutes after the other band broke down — that bought me some sanity. From the first few notes I was embroiled in the psychedelic sounds of Black Moth Super Rainbow. Their genre is definitely electronic but refreshingly without a hint of house or techno. They play loud and hard but the entire spectrum of sound is audible. The music was highly enjoyable and the band members were all interesting to lock in on and watch play.
Before the show I only had knowledge of BMSR’s music through bits and pieces. I have an EP or two and some singles but I’ve never delved deep into their music. It’s easy to call a band like this avant-garde or post modern or whatever but I think they keep it simple and that’s what “new” about them. There aren’t any laptops on stage or analog drums. They play on old-school synths and the most recognizable instrument in the bunch is a beat-up gong. Lacing hooks on odd time signatures seems to be the motif most of the time, which is far from new. But the music hits hard and creativity abounds, which can sometimes be mistaken for something entirely new.
The one snag I felt all night was the overuse of the vocals in a lot of the songs. To the right side of the stage a member of the group rocks the vocoder and numerous pedal effects. He is singing but mostly it is impossible to tell what he is saying and I felt the sound grew old over the more ranging music coming from the sythns. It’s cute, but that’s about it.
Two members of the band blew me away though. Father Hummingbird (the bass player) and the drummer, who doesn’t seem to make it into press photos or their Wikipedia page. The bassist keeps everything fresh, working over complex bass lines while in constant motion. He rocked out all night, headband and all. BMSR’s drummer was incredible. She was unbelievably tight while playing what are some really interesting time signatures. She rocks a Zapatista-esque bandana over her face — very outlaw. It would be really easy for this group to use analog drums and I applaud them for going with the real thing.
The show was big from the start with very few periods of inactivity. The energy in the room was pretty amazing due both to the crowd and the band. It seemed as if all were there for the same reason. For the first part of the show I was directly in front of a monitor which made the sound a bit one dimensional; the minute I moved to the middle of the room the sound became full and complex.
This band is flush with ambiguity and I love it. I don’t know who they really are — they go by aliases — and I’m still not sure if the drummer is actually in the band. The one problem with mysterious is that it usually follows the words “dark and,” making it nearly impossible to take clear photos. I did my best but got many like the above photo. It was tough to be out late on a work night but the show was well worth my ineptitude the next day. Definitely check these guys out if they stop in your town and grab the new EP Drippers from your local record store.
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