Last Night: Octopus Project at the South Side Music Hall

Octopus Project
South Side Music Hall
November 18, 2010

Better than:
Quadrophonic?


It was bleeding Octophonic! Or so it was last night, when The Octopus Project treated a couple hundred people to an immersive performance of their new Hexadecagon release.

As promised in the promotion for this event, the four-member Austin-based band trucked in everything required for a true multimedia live music event presented in the round. Above a stage equipped with guitars, drums, various synths, glockenspiel, computers and the coolest looking theremin you've ever seen was a peaked-roof canopy on which images and video was projected. Eight speakers wear placed around the room, with the music channeled through and around the audience.

The effect was very intimate and engaging.

Octopus Project has long enjoyed a reputation as a fun and quirky live band presenting their bouncing experimental electronica. Remember: These folks were voted by ticket purchasers to be the opening act at Coachella a few years ago. But the music of the new album and its presentation last night pushed the envelope into a whole new realm.

The four members of the band all performed with on multiple instruments, and as the songs transitioned there was a lot of scurrying around to get the right instruments into the hands of the right performer and sequencers queued. As multi-instrumentalist Josh Lambert quipped during such a transition, "There's a lot of shit we have to do between songs". 

The evening was not without a couple of extended song transitions as notes were consulted and things figured out. But this was only the second time the band had conducted this grand experiment, and the patient audience was justly rewarded.

The presentation of the Hexadecagon song set was completed in just over an hour. The band followed that with popular older songs I Saw The Bright Shinies from 2007's Hello Avalanche and "Porno Disaster" from 2002s Identification Parade.

Overall, this performance was a tour de force and a special treat for a privileged audience.

Critics Notebook
Personal Bias:
I've seen Octopus Project before, and enjoyed it then, too.

Random Note: The sound quality was pristine, but you really had to be inside the perimeter of the inward-facing speaker set-up to get the full impact of the performance. It was the difference between being inside or outside the theater.

By The Way: One measure of how good the evening was could be seen by the depth of the line for merch after the show. It seems that almost half the audience queued up to by something at that point.
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