Friday, March 23rd
Radio Radio - Indianapolis, Indiana
Giant Squid, Grayceon, & Llange
Opening the show were locals, Llange, who boast an incredible amount of volume and heaviness. This four-piece sludge unit incorporates all the girth and plodding notes of household names like Jesu, Isis and Pelican. These dudes have their shit together, and not unlike many a show here in Indy I’ve seen, these Naptown locals handed the headlining bands their asses. Llange recorded their 6 song, 41 minute debut with Joel Lauver at Burning Bridge Studios in 2006, which is available now through the band at shows and on their Myspace site. More information, show listings, and streaming audio can be found at http://www.myspace.com/llangemusic.
Second in the lineup were Gracyeon, hailing from San Francisco, California, and comprised of a unique trio of musicians. The band features cello, guitar, and drums as well as the haunting voices of Jackie Perez Gratz and Max Doyle. Grayceon spun epic melodies, intertwining finger-picking guitar notes and somber cello lines over manic rolls and changes from Zack Farwell’s powerhouse drumming. Suddenly, the music lurches into a groove and Doyle is riffing between gallop chugs and pinch harmonics (still not using a pick) – ridiculous! For further listening check out Grayceon’s self-titled album on Vendulus Records, and Gratz can also be heard on the latest Asunder record, entitled Works Will Come Undone, on Profound Lore Records. Highly recommended!!! More information can also be obtained at http://www.myspace.com/grayceon.
Ending the night’s show was Giant Squid of Sacramento, California, who are currently on tour in support of their record, Metridium Fields, on The End Records. Recently added to the lineup is Jackie Perez Gratz, in place of former member Aurielle Gregory. Giant Squid are an enigma to me. There are the makings of an excellent and original heavy band within their ranks, yet the delivery is far from satisfying. There are 3 things that bothered me about the performance (which were an extension of what bothered me about the record):
1. The lack of doom-like crush: Guitarist Aaron Gregory uses a tuning at times that is the same many bands within the ‘Neurosis-worship’ clan use, dropping the bottom note to an octave of the string above. It creates a sound that is not unlike the ocean crashing. However, it’s criminally underutilized on Metridium Fields.
2. Vocals: More often than not, Gregory’s vocals are far too similar to Serj Tankian of System of a Down. It overpowers the music during the album and the night of the performance, it nearly overshadowed the rest of the music’s presentation.
3. Genre-bending: Originality is a hard thing to tackle sometimes. There are many different approaches to creating ‘new’ music. However, I’ve always thought that regardless of the medium (i.e., genre) in which the bulk of the music rests, those subtle touches and personal style make more of an impact than a band that constantly changes things up. Case in point, the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde beast that is Giant Squid. Talented in many aspects of song writing and performance, the band just doesn’t seem to be able to make up their mind where each song is going. Dreamy pieces with soft vocals suddenly jump into a staccato-driven dirge riffs and then to a long bridge before fading out over quiet guitar and horns. In a live setting the keyboard and horns are not to be found, but even a more stripped down version of the band doesn’t seem to make the approach more direct.
Giant Squid did, however, present themselves as a tight unit of players with technical competence and the promise for good things to come, hopefully. If Metridium Fields is a stepping stone to a more focused or interesting band, I look forward to hearing the next phase. For more information about the band you can visit their web site at http://www.giantsquidmusic.com or their Myspace site at http://www.myspace.com/giantsquid.