Behind the curtain

Peeking inside the Floater phenomenon

PREACHING TO THE CONVERTED<br>Bassist/vocalist Robert Wynia sings to another in a long line of packed houses for Floater at the Brick Works.

Bassist/vocalist Robert Wynia sings to another in a long line of packed houses for Floater at the Brick Works.

Photo By Tom Angel

The Brick Works,
Saturday, Feb. 7

Without exception, there will be a line of people spending all day on the sidewalk the day of the show waiting to see Floater play at the Brick Works. The draw for this Oregonian trio is so huge that they are the only touring band that regularly schedules two successive shows for their Chico stops, and both normally sell out.

It was my curiosity to experience a band that I’d never heard (I guess they’re on the radio, but that doesn’t help me much), and no one I knew had ever heard, and yet was so obviously the largest drawing act locally since the Mother Hips.

I’d been told that they were “kind of a metal band,” and forcing my way through the scowling black-clad youth into the ridiculously packed Brick Works, that initial suggestion began to seem plausible. However, 60 seconds into the first song all presumptions were shattered. The backdrop of stoney Pink Floyd-esque cartoons projected on an oversized white sheet behind the band synced-up perfectly with the space jam unfolding on stage. There were slight metal qualities—some crunchy chords and all—but the effect was lost in what was Floater’s obvious affinity for groovin'.

They do the groove thang just fine. Drummer Peter Cornett slapped out the sluggish rhythms admirably, and bassist Robert Wynia’s tone was actually pretty huge and impressive, and high marks should be awarded for Wynia’s soaring vocals, especially on the sustained choruses: “It’s all down hill from here…”

But that’s all there was. It was all down hill from there—nothing more than a tight band playing extended jams a little heavier than your average jam band. And guitarist Dave Amador should have his effects pedals confiscated. His version of kicking it into overdrive was to slather his axe with thick coats of limp chorus effects that made him disappear in the mix. If not for the crowd’s cues, I wouldn’t have known when the band was rockin’ out.

It’s unbelievable that so many seemingly rebellious youths would embrace such a flaccid attempt at rock ‘n’ roll, and it’s equally perplexing that the barefoot dirt-twirlers would fall under the spell of what was essentially hippie rock for frat dudes.