Chicago-based Dead Rider graced the stage at Firebird, creating an atmospheric night held together by tendrils of slipbeat, poetry, and Ï€.
Dead Rider is a solid experimental band with elements of noise that sneaks in through the cracks. It infuses pop music with poly-rhythm of melodic keyboards, guitar, and trumpet stylings. Todd Rittman (former guitarist for U.S. Maple) seductively growls/croons/rasps his way through witty, funny, and ice-cold lyrics. Rittman slithered and danced his way to the microphone, adding to the air of nonchalance, creating a striking opposition to the musical accompaniment.
It bears mentioning that Thymme Jones of Cheer-Accident fame plays keys and trumpet, which is a grand treat for a fan of impossible-to-define music such as myself. Part of the genius behind the music is Rittman’s carefully crafted way of sounding careless, but listen closer and you notice the elements of damaged blues and gut-wrenching jazz precisely intertwined, weaving a tapestry of cosmic proportions.
The full lineup includes Rittmann on guitar and lead vocals, Jones on keyboards, Andrea Faught on trumpet and keyboards, and Matt Espy on drums.
Playing just before Dead Rider were locals The Conformists, a quartet that combines false starts and stops, brief moments of punk rock, and odd time signatures, creating a disjointed sound that can trick the unfamiliar into thinking the band is having a train wreck of monumental proportions. However, watch and listen closely; it their genius in the form of performance art shines through, allowing the audience a glimpse into the dichotomy between their name and their angular rock sound.
St. Louis based Yowie opened the show, another band whose musical style is nearly indescribable. Drummer Sean ‘Defenestrator’ O’Connor is the glue that binds the band together while Chris Trull bends and taps out leads on guitar and fellow guitarist Jeremiah Wonsewitz expands the sound and noise potential by including two bass strings on his guitar.
While many first-time listeners to Yowie mistake their performances as free improvisation, nothing could be further from the truth. As impossible as it sounds, they play meticulously arranged pieces that are paradigms of laser-focused energy, surgical structure, and discipline… all in a time signature that resembles Ï€/âˆš-1.