Why you need to check out the other acts. . .
Went to check out Tempest City at the Bowery Ballroom last night. Good band and good show, but last night was a case of why you want to give the other acts on the bill a chance. You just never know what you might catch and that is why you need to get there early and see who else is playing. See who might just steal the show.
So last night it was Quantum Split. i knew nothing about them. Nothing. I watched them get organized. they were a younger act. All in their twenties. It looked like a standard deal, the guitarist on the left, bass player on the right. an attractive young lady who I was guessing was their vocalist. . . just plugged in a Strat? Hmmm they got me curious.
And rightfully so, They came on, The singer, with her Strat, talked briefly about staying true to who you are, a little banter, touching a theme she would return to several times. That was cool. But then they jumped into the music and it was heavy. Nice solid rhythm. And then she tore into this solo that was just tasty and with some whammy bar. This was mainly her playing, though her and the other guitarist were going back and forth throughout the night. Some nice playing on both their parts. Bass player too was solid. I liked his Darth Vader intro music when they introduced him.
So some good musicianship, but there is more. This band I learned after the show has not released any music. They have been at it for the past two or three years, but they have not gone into a studio as of yet it seems. They have material and they are rehearsing, but here is the thing. the songs they have are barely songs. They are not finished songs, but yet they make it work, more than work. They were not songs in the way I am use to a song being laid out. They were not structured. What they had were several pieces of a song that they would mix up and it worked nicely.
Routinely, they would start quietly with a riff, or the bass-line and then go into a story over what they were playing. It was kind of a prelude. There were a lot of stories and going back and forth with the audience, which was cool. Then once the tale which was often tied to that theme of doing what was in your heart. then they would jump into the song proper. Again, the songs were simple but worked, and they just had a flow. They were tight and though they improvised, the band as a unit, knew where it was going. so these basic chord progressions, some tasting soloing, mixed with these stories and banter with the crowd, and all done so easily. Reminded me of Van Halen. Especially some the solos, maybe they were not that tasty but nice.
The other thing that was cool musically was the use of synthesized guitar. I am guessing that was what I was listening to. Just some very cool intros and just what I would call overlays, on top of their chord progression, amplifying those progressions, just adding a layer, and a very nice layer. I am assuming it was through the guitars. I do not know, but it worked.
So we have the structure of the tunes. We have this really loose feel, yet the band is tight. We have the quality of the playing, We have these symphonic moments. It just worked. All were on the money – the drummer-Richard Chen, the bass player-Ivan Hardy, the guitarist-Adrian Read, and guitarist / vocalist front and center-Soleil Laurent.
And then you just have the interaction with the crowd. There is a lot of interaction with the crowd. There is an energy. the band is ready to go and so is the crowd. And the crowd is there to see this band. I wish there were more folks like myself who knew nothing, but I don’t think that was the case. Does not really matter. All enjoyed.
There is more. What I saw here was a rock band that stretched a bit. I like that. I would say they were borrowing from gospel, especially gospel as part of a church service. I do not know if that is the case. It is what I look to to explain what was going on. To point to a gospel service explains to some degree that loose but solid music under the banter. Like the chorus or choir, used to emphasize what the preacher is saying during the service. And like such a service, here it is not so much about the songs but the experience, the whole event. So musically they do seem to owe something to gospel. That is my guess.
Near the end of the set though they paused and asked the audience to look to each side and say hello to the people around them. That was so cool. For me that was right out of a Catholic mass. I am not at too many masses, but that was so much like the “sign of the peace”. Just as at this show, the priest will take a moment and ask the congregation to share the peace with those around them. You proceed to turn to your neighbors, your fellow celebrants, and say”Peace be with you. . .” I have never until last night seen it done at a rock n roll show, but I it was neat.
So it was cool. Something different. The theme of being true to oneself, the flow, the lack of structure and yet knowing where they were going. And you can’t do that, you can’t pull that off with out some skill and some probably some rehearsal time. And, lastly the energy was there. They called it love, which again made me think of the religious, but plenty of rockers will talk of love.
And just to qualify, they were not religious. Just a good band who did things their own way. I will check them out again.
For more on the band go to their website, http://quantumsplit.com/.