The Pour House
A rainy Saturday this time of year leaves you with two options: stay at home and watch Christmas movies, or attend a rave, naturally. EOTO couldn’t have arrived at a better time for all those who aren’t partial to Jimmy Stewart and/or really like bass. The duo of drummers brought their improvised electro-jam act to a dance-ready crowd at the Pour House.
EOTO — comprised of Jason Hann and Michael Travis of Boulder, Col., jam band The String Cheese Incident — transferred the jam band aesthetic and the skills found therein to a live, 100-percent improvised dance show emphasizing free-form, live mixing, and looping techniques. Every night, a different show. Every show, a different party.
Their stage performance is more DJ than drum expo. Travis mans his MacBooks, using Ableton Live software, midi keyboards, a sampler, and occasionally, a set of bongos. But the live drum playing by Hann is integral in this equation. He jams with a variety of influences and a breakneck pace that would have other bands opting for a drum machine.
It’s no mystery that jam band culture is a close cousin to drug culture. Only now, the music has become the drug. EOTO’s live show attempts to mimic those altered states — the kind that puts one in outer space, or at least abducted and en route. The duo projected a variety of images and neon-tinted footage onto a backing screen — featuring everything from pink cell division to a green Angkor Wat. The trip went a bit sour when the computer inexplicably rebooted and the screen only showed a crowded desktop (this spaceship uses Windows XP).
Despite the variety of visuals, the music stayed pretty uniform. With little change in the tempos throughout, Travis inverted melodies and overused certain effects, making everything blend together. It is a challenge for an act of their sort to mix it up when they don’t allow themselves time to regroup or reset.
EOTO could benefit from scaling back on the electronics, letting Hann’s playing shine over the electro backdrop, and using subtle changes in melody to allow the music to sink in.
If the jam band and electronic genres have anything in common, it’s what they ask of the audience. The listener has to lose themselves in the music for a while, hoping the band will help bring them back to earth. But after EOTO, some may have left certain that nothing that fast, for that long, is all good — especially not a drug.