Sleepytime Gorilla Museum @ Bowery Ballroom (4/18/2009)

Logo - Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

Artist: Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
Venue: Bowery Ballroom (New York, NY)
Opener: Dub Trio
Date: 4/18/2009
Label: The End Records

A Sleepytime Gorilla Museum concert is much more than your conventional show and instead should be labeled as an “experience” as opposed to letting its happenings be relegated to a mundane term. I was lucky enough to be able to catch this interesting group once before and even with that experience in my musical memory, I was unsure of what to expect this evening. That last show was in 2007 and was held at The Highline Ballroom which is a room that I enjoy almost as much as I do the Bowery Ballroom. Tonight these The End Records Avant-guardians would be appearing with The Dub Trio, whose name I had heard of before but never managed to catch in concert. I arrived early enough to absorb the whole vibe and not only see what they would be about but to better prepare myself for the difference that is the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.

Dub Trio: Ok so I have to admit about being somewhat remiss about what these guys actually do and since the name was really ringing a bell to me, I must have been sent a CD to review somewhere along the line and accidently lost track of it. As I listened to what they were doing up on the stage I realized that this oversight was something that needed to be rectified post haste because it was totally kicking ass. The premise of the band is interesting as each member of the trio seems to be equipped with the necessary tools to dub the other instruments around them. Pretty tricky to pull off while one is playing, but they were doing it, and seemed to have a good portion of the audience interested in their sound as well. I was obviously unclear about the actual tunes that they would be delivering this evening but despite this I was not finding myself bored with the stuff that was happening based on the unique atmosphere that was being put out by this Cross-over Rock band from my home base of Brooklyn, NY. Nice work gentlemen, I look forward to learning more about you in the future. The members of the Dub Trio are DP Holmes (guitar/keyboards), Stu Brooks (bass/keyboards) and Joe Tomino (drums/melodica). If you are a fan of Experimental Rock with a serious punch please do yourself a favor and check them out. Fans of Faith No More might find it interesting to learn that The Dub Trio has worked with Mike Patton in the past. Now it was time for The Sleepytime Gorilla Museum to come onto the stage and it was anyone’s guess as to what was in store for us.

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum: The last time that I caught SGM was actually my very first time seeing them and oddly enough would be the day after the free Ozzfest of 2007 which meant I was running on fumes that night. Still, there was no way that I could miss the chance to enjoy something that friends had described as more of an event than a concert. They were totally correct in this and one of the main things people will notice about the bands setup is that a lot of the instruments they use are self-made experiments in sound possibility. There is the standard guitar, bass and drums being used as well as some violin, but there is also a percussion set up with cans, sheets of metal and just about the kitchen sink tossed into its design and then the most prominent device would have to be the giant log that is actually a little bit piano and a little bit guitar/lap steel. It appears to be about six feet in length and when not in use, the musician sets it upright so if you are on his side it just might affect your visibility every now and again.

The group is fronted by Nils Frykdahl who keeps everyone entertained by regularly engaging and talking to the crowd about whatever seemed to come to his mind. To the outside observer this came off as being very sporadic but having seen the band once before I knew that he was well aware of the weirdness that he was talking about. He discussed the band had been keeping busy making babies and stuff and when one glanced over to violinist Carla Kihlstedt you could see that she was heavy with child. While you might think that this would be an issue to a performer she did her thing but seemed to be plagued by sound and volume issues. Without breaking stride the band covered this up by breaking into a storyline about the no longer existing human beings and it was at this time that drummer Matthias Bossi walked to center stage with a painting that showed a very 70’s era blonde man and instructed the audience to gaze at the photo and remember these beings. It was strange but worked as an impromptu means to distract from the technical difficulties. The baby making reference came to vivid light as bassist Dan Rathburn’s wife and child came on to the stage to a rousing level of applause. Yes the baby was wearing headphones to block the decibel level and that should be a good observation for any parent who chooses to bring their children to a show to mark down. Congratulations on the new addition Dan.

There always seems to be a lot going on and to absorb during an SGM show and that makes it all the more difficult to sit down and compile thoughts about any given performance that one might catch. I feel that while a lot of the goings on are rehearsed to perfection that they also do a lot of improvisation and often run with a particular situation from time to time. It’s the kind of show that would make an enthralling video concert film or theatrical performance since it’s so different from anything conventional. Most of the music came from their album “In Glorious Times” but they would not only sit and do material from this one and instead pay a visit to other releases in their catalog such as “Grand Opening and Closing” and “Of Natural History”. It truly is an experience and one that will keep you entertained from beginning to end and not find you seeking a place to sit down or that chance to wander near the merchandise booth. Seeing them once does not do the trick either and I say this after having done so myself. Doing this only gives you some of the answers and at the end of the day only leaves you with many more questions. I’m not sure when they are going to return but I know that I will be back to see what happens and I suggest that you do the same. If you are one of those people who think that there is nothing new going on in music then I offer you up the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum who will make you eat those words over and over until full.

Dub Trio Setlist:
1. uncaptured

SGM Set List:
1. Bring Back the Apocalypse
2. Phthisis
3. Helpless Corpses Enactment
4. The Widening Eye
5. Angle of Repose
6. The Last Human Being
7. Salamander
8. The Salt Crown
9. 1997 (Tonight We’re Gonna Party Like It’s…)
10. Ambugation
11. Save It
12. The Donkey-Headed Adversary of Humanity Opens the Discussion

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