CONCERT RECAP: Conspirator @ Toad’s Place, New Haven, CT 3.1.12

Toad’s Place twice in one week! This time around to see Cosmic Dust Bunnies and Jeff Bujak open up for Conspirator. I walked in just as Cosmic Dust Bunnies were loading out and Jeff Bujak was getting comfortable on stage.

Jeff is a solo act out of Northampton, MA and works it on the keys. He always plays without any shoes on–usually just white socks. He is known for teasing a variety of other band’s music as a segway into his original tunes. On this evening he used a little Rage Against the Machine-Down Rodeo and some Faith No More-Epic amongst others. Be still my heart…I love me some RATM. If you like dance and electronica music (aka “intelligent dance music” or “IDM” for short) you’ll be sure to love his sound. Every time I have seen him perform, his stage decor consists of the same two neon colored paintings highlighted in black light. This time around, a hula-hooping lady from the crowd joined on stage for a little performance of her own.

I was upset to have missed the Cosmic Dust Bunnies. I saw them briefly over the summer at Connecticut’s BOMB Fest 2011 and ever since then I have been unable to catch them again. They look to be seeping into the festival scene and seem to have a very solid following. Their fans are loyal and their merch is pretty damn colorful; both very positive things. I hope to finally see them one of these days!

For those that may not know, Conspirator is a well-known side project consisting bassist Marc Brownstein and keyboardist Aron Magner of the ever-popular Disco Biscuits.

As they and their stagehands were getting their gear fine-tuned and ready to go, my eyes were immediately drawn to the keyboardist’s laptop which appeared to be rocking a Gelaskin. This Canada-based company creates custom protective skins that can wrap almost any of your electronic devices with the works of award-winning illustrators, up-and-coming artists, charitable organizations and even your own custom designs. It is always a thrill to me to see that amazing artists, such as Aron, are supporting other amazing art and artists!

The music started and my hair didn’t stop vibrating until the show was over; the price one “pays” for standing front and center. Conspirator is currently on tour with a full band which on this evening was RAQ’s guitarist, Chris Michetti and the UK’s Pendulum Drummer, KJ Sawka; “an inspiring drummer from the UK” boosts Marc.

It is hard sometimes to photograph “awesome” especially when there is no “pit” to stand in. I will have to do my best to paint a picture with words and with the few pictures that I did grab. The 4-piece line-up was entertaining a very lively crowd in a packed house. The enthusiasm of the performers was amazing. They spent a lot of time looking into the eyes of not only each other but of some of those that were up close and personal. For those lucky fans, it will likely be a moment they will remember for a long time to come as it isn’t everyday you get to stare into the eyes of one of your musical idols. For me, I had a moment with KJ. It was almost as if my excitement for his ability was feeding his sound. Amongst each other, the band was very animated with movement and hand gestures when transitioning from one beat to the next. Each musician had a moment to shine with outstanding solos. The flow of sound and the improv of the group created an amazing energy that stayed with me throughout the evening and into my ride home.

I have to believe any band’s side-projects come out of the desire and drive to keep on playing in their downtime. For strong musicians, music is in their blood and it is hard to just turn off. Many artists, to include this collaboration I am speaking of here, carry a different kind of success when they are not touring with their main lineup. And with variety comes a diverse crowd to include old and new fans alike. While there is, at times, only so much “IDM” I can take in one day, this evening’s show was exactly what my week needed; the kind of show where you have to stop and whip the fog off your glasses (and/or your camera lense.)

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