Digging for noise

Dredg rises above the crowd on three-band Senator bill

THE BIG DIG <br>Aggro, prog-rock, whatever the tag, Dredg’s Gavin Hayes worked the Senator crowd up with it.

Aggro, prog-rock, whatever the tag, Dredg’s Gavin Hayes worked the Senator crowd up with it.

Photo By Tom Angel

There was something inexplicably comforting about hearing the first strains from Dredg’s Mark Engles’ guitar roar through the Senator on Friday night.

Not that opening acts The Pale Pacific and Circa Survive were a waste of time. The pop-rock sound and collectively calm demeanor of The Pale Pacific did make for a pleasant experience, but it didn’t do much to excite the amorphous mass of “I can only see out of one eye because my emo hair is covering the other” crowd.

Philadelphia-born Circa Survive brought an edgier vibe to the red-glowing Senator, although listening to front man Anthony Green calmly declare that he “feels like he’s going to puke” was probably the aspect that made the band’s stage time most notable. Actually having followed through would have been enough to overshadow the mediocre playing ability of their commonplace prog-rock sound. Only Dredg had the ability to truly capture the room with an enrapturing blend of unique instrumentation with vocals.

In contrast to the balancing difficulties (inherent to the big Senator Theatre) that seemed to plague the other bands (overbearing bass was a common problem), Dredg exercised near complete mastery over the often precarious equilibrium between vocals, guitar, bass and drums. While vocalist Gavin Hayes’ mellifluous voice sliced cleanly through the instrumentation with impressive abandon, the other three members of Dredg were not to be overshadowed.

It was the instrumental ingenuity that largely set the band apart from what might’ve been an otherwise typical four-piece performance. Some of the evening’s more pleasant moments, for instance, came when drummer Dino Campanilla paused his assault on his drum set, hurled his drumsticks into the audience and took up instead the keyboard at his side. And at times vocalist Hayes would crouch at his pedal steel guitar, adding likeable flair to the “aggro-rock” description sometimes proffered when trying to typify Dredg.

Things did slow down toward the end of the set, which was comprised of a combination of the band’s old stuff plus some of what could be found on the new CD, Catch Without Arms.

By the time the show actually ended, enough drumsticks had been launched into the audience to erect a small cabin, while the deafening slamming of the drums finally culminated in the popping-off of a cymbal, ending things for good. A polite “Thank you and enjoy the rest of your Friday evening” from Hayes elicited a sea of outstretched hands, thanking the guys for making the sacrifice of their eardrums so worthwhile.