Concert Reviews

Last Night...Indian Jewelry, Portamento, Republic Of Thoronia @ Hi-Dive

Indian Jewelry, Portamento, Republic Of Thoronia Wednesday, April 30, 2008, Hi-Dive Better than: A late night game of Legend Of Zelda

“Button Mashers.” That is what my buddy Jeff called it while we were having lunch. This was another in a series of long-winded discussions that we have had about music. The topic at hand was a certain group that had been getting much attention of late. Said group isn’t really a rock band per say, but a duo who have been labeled a “noise band.” But to Jeff, “Button Mashers” made more sense as said “band” really didn’t “play” much of anything. This term tickled my brain all throughout Wednesday's sparsely attended show at Hi-Dive.

While we were waiting for Republic Of Thoronia to set up and wait out his warm-up music, some random drunk guy walked in off the street and loudly declared he was “looking for the pisser.” After much, um, anticipation ROT frontman (only man), King Thor donned his makeshift crown, and began to mash buttons. Out of nowhere, the wannabe pisser actually stumbled to the center of the Hi-Dive floor and put on show that was a disparate mix of ballet, skank, and dizziness. His antics actually worked quite well with Republic Of Thoronia’s disparate mix of influences (Say, Mega Man 4, Worlds of Warcraft, Richard Simmons exercise tapes). Sadly, wannabe pisser left three songs into the set, sapping all power away from King Thor’s mythic boasts.

Humbly following was local upstart Portamento. There is a lot to like about this band, as the members are incredibly talented. Tonight that talent was on display as the band churned through their set with workman-like efficiency. Most of the set was instrumental, with occasional, bleeps and bloops floating in and out of songs thanks to the alternating “button mashing” by the members. And while the band sometimes tends to stick too much to a predictable pattern (repetitive riffs, stop/start time shifts), their incredible rhythm section, with it’s forceful attack, bailed the band out several times when songs started to fall back into too familiar territory.

Drapped in the flag of Texas, Indian Jewelry came on stage to shear noise and strobe lights. Mired in a state tradition decades old (see Butthole Surfers), these Houston-based crazies were as much about visual assault as they were aural attack. While others use their button mashing to take up space, Indian Jewelry created melody from their mashing, filling every inch of the room with sound.. Equal amounts psychedelica, noise, and at points trip hop, this shadowy three piece played a set that had no breaks but just ebbed and flowed until the inevitable end where they, much like random-drunk-guy, and his dance moves, floated off into the night. -- Jeremy Brashaw Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: I do like the additional keyboards that Portamento has added to their sound. Random Detail: I guess Indian Jewelry is the secret no one gives away. By the Way: I picked up The First Book of Republic of Thoronia, every group should have a manifesto.

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Sean Cronin