Experimental vibes and heavy metal Xmas
That thing you doo: It was a good night for folks who helped fund local avant-garde artist DoofyDoo’s Kickstarter campaign earlier this year. The band’s sole member Drew Walker threw an album release show for The Tourist, which also happened to be the opening reception for his gallery exhibit (also called The Tourist) at Blackbird Kitchen + Beer Gallery on Sunday. The exhibit was a virtual recreation of his Tourist tour, with photos, notepad entries and listening stations for music from most of these shows. Those who helped to financially launch the project enjoyed a private pre-show dinner.
DoofyDoo performed a set in a room adjacent to the upstairs gallery—it was an ideal room for the oddball music, as artwork and moving lights were everywhere.
Dan Trudeau (Pregnant) and Jon Bafus (Gentleman Surfer) kicked off the night. Trudeau started the evening with what can only be described as a truly weird set. His solo music is a mixture of lo-fi keyboards, drum machines, computerized samples and guitar playing, along with his almost-cartoonish lead vocals. It sounded like the soundtrack to a strange ’70s sci-fi film.
Bafus played second with an incredible solo set—on the drums. He started very quietly, looping some of his rhythms with pedals, and playing his kit with sticks, mallets and his hands. Partway through his set, he put on a headset and added spoken word and vocal noises over the drumming. He built up as he progressed and by the end it was an orchestra of fantastic tribal-rock-arena beats.
DoofyDoo closed the night. Before the set, Walker premiered a 12-minute video that is meant to accompany the entirety of his Sacramento EP. The video is a mixture of YouTube clips, animation and funny footage depicting Walker.
Walker kept the theme of Sunday’s set a secret until it was time to perform. Appropriately enough, it turned out to center on his Tourist tour. Walker recorded himself thanking people for supporting him, then telling tour-related stories. Live, he improvised music along to it. Even though it was spontaneous and experimental, Walker did an amazing job of creating different moods using guitar, pedal board and random instruments. The results were dark and dissonant one minute and ethereal and gorgeous the next.
Ghostly cheer: It’s getting close to Christmas time and that means one thing for symphonic rock and metal nerds alike: It’s time for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra to make the rounds in arenas across the United States. This year is no different—although the group is also promoting a collection of music that was released last month, Letters From the Labyrinth.
TSO was founded nearly 20 ago by composer-producer-lyricist Paul O’Neill, who eventually brought Jon Oliva and Al Pitrelli (both from the heavy metal band Savatage) into the fold along with keyboardist Robert Kinkel. Since then, the group has become a headlining sensation.
Wednesday’s show at Sleep Train Arena drew a sizable yet decidedly Caucasian crowd for the early 4 p.m. show. Many of the attendees were couples well over 50 years old with just as many middle-aged women, who traveled in groups, taking selfies throughout the night. This particular tour, dubbed “The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve,” found the band playing many fan favorites as well as songs from its latest opus as part of a Christmas-themed rock opera. The marvelous light show was replete with lasers and an ornate castle backdrop of sorts.
As customary, the TSO institution sends two different versions out on the road in different parts of the country, in an effort to capture that small window of time where the show—and records—can get the most exposure.
For those who love Christmas music with a little extra distortion, heaps of keyboards and operatic vocals, there’s little doubt the TSO brand will be routing yet another stop here next year. And the pale-skinned 50-plus crowd will likely be ready.