Bosnian Rainbows and Zorch - Trees - May 28, 2013
Kiernan Maletsky Zorch
It's an average night in Trees. The bar is dark, the lights are half-assed, the drinks are flowing and there's a reasonable crowd. Rock is playing over the PA, and there's a low chatter. The only clue that something weirder than the usual fare served up at Trees is going on is that I followed a guy with a Mars Volta bumper sticker into the parking lot. We've got a two band bill, and no one really knows what to expect. Zorch, hailing from just down I-35, are an Austin duo revealed by the slowly retreating red curtains of Trees to a pretty small audience crowded around the stage just after nine. A pulverizingly loud monotone synth fills the venue along with a kind of humming noise. It's an auspicious start. I'm not sure if I'm ready for sub-Kid A electro the day after a long holiday weekend.
-The Mars Volta at Palladium Ballroom (2008 Review)
-Alice in Chains Was the Highlight of Rocklahoma 2013
Zorch then proceed to totally tear that shit up. Screw electro, the duo carry on to produce some sort of bizarre alien rock music that has no time for human conceits like time signatures or steady rhythmic devices. The drummer and vocalist, a man called "Shmu" apparently, seems to have the drumkit as an extension of his body, because there's no way someone can play at that pace and be that consistently amazing while singing over the top of it. There's not so much in the way of lyrics, rather another layer to the synth which by now is a multi-textured beast pounding an audience bemused by a backdrop of psychedelic shapes and retro video-game imagery (I saw Doom and Mortal Kombat, a sure way to win this reviewer over). If Shmu actually memorizes these drumbeats, which are insanely complex, and plays them the same way every night, he is probably more useful to the United States in the field of cryptography. They are triumphantly excellent, the sort of support band you're delighted you turned out early to catch.
After a short break, it's time for the latest Omar Rodriguez-Lopez project. I confess, I was expecting something totally different from what we got. Teri Gender Bender, from Guadalajara punk band Le Bucherettes, is not someone who I was acquainted with. She timidly walks on to the stage clad head to toe in what I can only describe as a dress like the ones the Amish might wear, a pale blue number burying her under many layers of material. She's only a tiny thing, and she spends the first minute or so grinning demonically and bowing in appreciation to the audience. Omar's on the left, trademark guitar in hand, with former Mars Volta drummer Deantoni Parks in the middle on a set-up I've never seen, a keyboard over a bass drum where the rack toms would usually sit. He proceeded to play the keyboard one-handed and the snare and hi-hat with the other hand. Nicci Kasper, a songwriter partner of Parks', had a stack of keyboards on the right providing the bass.
I am totally unsure how to describe what came next. It's best to tackle the actions of the two leading forces in the band, Gender Bender and Rodriguez-Lopez, and bear in mind that the music itself is something like eighties synth pop meets Siouxsie and the Banshees, only much better than that sounds. Gender Bender is a wild, unbridled force of nature, a whirling dervish of a lead singer who is at turns timid and shy and at other turns on the verge of some sort of mental breakdown, a mess of limbs and hair. At one point she did a full-on chicken dance when there was no music happening.