Faces for Radio, Entropy Ensemble
The Pour House
Oct. 1

With two instrumental combos performing odd but elegantly groovy stuff on the main stage, musical fusion was the theme at the Pour House on Oct. 1. All four members of co-headlining act Faces for Radio were clad in white jump suits, looking like a jazz-fusion version of Devo. Their matching outfits were among several props. The wearing of Oprah Winfrey masks was among the weirdest humorous twists of the night.

Led by virtuosic pianist Andrew Walker, a stripped-down version of the other co-headliner Entropy Ensemble opened the night with a dynamic and hypnotic set of Radiohead songs. Walker and his crew — bassist Ben Wells, drummer Stuart White, and cellist Lonnie Root — locked in on reworkings of Radiohead deep cuts and familiar hits, from Pablo Honey to Kid A and The King of Limbs.

Walker usually enlists violinist Javier Orman for these shows, but the acclaimed musician was unavailable. His absence left much of the melodic duties up to Walker and Root, who played beautifully on his body-mounted electric cello.

After an intermission, White and Wells returned alongside keyboardist Gerald Gregory and electric guitarist Tyler Ross. White was situated at a four-piece kit on stage left, flanked on his right by Wells. The rhythm section faced Ross and Gregory across the stage. Ross surrounded himself with small amps and numerous effects pedals (which he clicked with his bare feet). Gregory sat behind two synthesizers at stage right.

If Wells and White played it straight during the early-night performance, they dropped their inhibitions with the funk and soul of the second. While elements of modern jazz worked into Faces for Radio’s original music, they seemed more determined to create heavy grooves.

The set meandered at times. Some of the musical conversations between Gregory and Ross seemed a little repetitive. Wells and White rolled with everything, cracking each other up with crazy licks. Ross delivered more than a few molten explosions.

Still in their early phase, Faces for Radio showed terrific potential. Their impressive technical skills match their creative streaks — and their love for vintage funk and fusion. The collaboration could very well recapture the sexy swagger and bad-ass propulsion of the funk-jazz heyday.