"Just so you all know,we are EOTO, and we play live," declared Michael Travis, the act's keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist. "There are no backing tracks." Once he got that handy bit of information out of the way, he then made sure to note that Alex and Allyson Grey were painting on stage, and then Travis and his bandmate, drummer Jason Hann, commenced to burning down the Fillmore. The two ignited the crowd with "Sexual Healing" and then kept the Fillmore broiling until the music stopped.
Travis and Hann take the stage with a blank canvas. The songs typically blend together with a very organic chemistry, not unlike the duo's relationship outside of EOTO and within the realm of String Cheese Incident. Occasionally you'll be able to pull out a vocal sample or a familiar chorus (there was a brief moment during this set where we were awed to be hearing the opening riff for Sum 41's "FatLip"), but for the most part, the team just seamlessly blends genres and styles.
When Hann gets going on the drums, like he was for the better half of the set here, the party is transformed into a steady drum and bass celebration. Given his background, which traverses an extensive catalog of styles ranging from jam-band (percussionist for String Cheese Incident) to West African Dance (he co-wrote/recorded album with Shaman's Dream) to dubstep (his solo project, Prophet Massive,) it's easy to see where Hann's proclivity for sporadically changing the beat on a whim comes from.
For his part, when Travis takes the reins for a bit, he lets the tracks build slowly before crashing into a massive drop. It is in these moments that you realize how EOTO has climbed the ranks in the way from playing festivals supporting acts to now headlining the Fillmore. And just as EOTO's renown as grown, so has its sound has evolved to cater to the dubstep crowd -- as noted by a number of fans we overheard discussing this at the show.
But while the EOTO of 2012 is indeed not the same EOTO that first played at Sonic Bloom in 2006, and the outfit admittedly plays dubstep, it also plays good dubstep -- as well as other styles as it pushes the boundaries of EDM. This is party music, as evidenced by the hundreds of balloons descending from the ceiling onto the front row towards the close of the second set, following a monumental build-up. The whole night was a dance party. The crowd was enthusiastic for good reason: The music was good, and the environment was even better.
Prior to the mayhem of the headliners, Colorado-based VibeSquaD (aka Aaron Holstein) got the crowd properly warmed up, offering up low BPM beats accompanied by perfectly mastered layers of samples. Flanked on both sides by lasers -- really solid lasers at that -- Holstein dabbled through both Orphan Alien albums, notably towards the end when he dropped "Stranded Busdriver," and the catchy hook timed with the dancing roof of lasers had the whole place going insane.
Personal Bias: Of the four or five times I've seen EOTO now, it's refreshing that the sets have been completely different.
Random Detail: The lotus flower stage is awesome with Zebbler on the mapping. And whoever was running lasers was crushing game.
By the Way: The band did a meet and greet after the show for a special group of fans. That's always cool. Alex and Allyson Grey did a brief lecture before the show, and painted on stage for the duration of EOTO's set.