Concert Reviews

On July 4, Rubedo Raised the Standard for Putting on a Show

Rubedo means the fourth and final stage of alchemy. It signals alchemical success, creation of the philosopher’s stone or gold or both, even. As a band name, it’s a pretty bold one. And while Denver group Rubedo did not create literal gold with notes and melodies on stage at the Bluebird over the weekend, the band more than lived up to its name.

Rubedo is made up of three musicians who couldn’t be more different. Gregg Ziemba is a hurricane on the drums, and he sat, shirtless, pounding his snare like he wanted to punch a hole through it. He would be right at home in a punk band or a pop punk band that stands a chance of containing his seemingly infinite energy. Lead singer Kyle Grey, sweat dripping from his unruly hair, writhed as he twisted knobs on his synth, spouting lyrics about how love is the answer. At other times, he played the ukelele like his true dream is to start a ukelele-only band. Guitarist Alex Raymond spent most of the set with his mouth agape in a silent scream as he jumped and twisted, creating more sound then seems possible with a single guitar.

The three disparate elements combined create some kind of completely novel psych rock. At moments catchy and fun, at others mysterious, dark, almost consumed by cacophony. It’s unlike anything you could hear from a local band on Saturday night, but Rubedo aren’t like any other local band.

For starters, Rubedo decided to throw a show on July 4, a day most patriotic revelers are either drinking and watching fireworks or asleep from a long day of drinking and fireworks and hot dogs. The band promoted the show months in advance, even holding a line party to get friends and fans to buy tickets long before they had considered their July 4 plans.

To open the show, Rubedo tapped unforgettable punk band Future Single Mom. Then it hired Man Mantis to create a custom video to play behind the band and engineered a brilliant light set up, which feature flashbulbs bursting in time from behind two giant screens and all along Ziemba’s drum kit. This show was laden with audacious moves and ingenious planning, and somehow, maybe because this band actually contains a bit of alchemy within, it all came together perfectly.

Towards the end of the show, as Raymond played a continuous psychedelic melody, Kayln Heffernan from Wheelchair Sports Camp was brought out from the back to the stage pharaoh style — on a red chair on a red board carried by two shirtless dudes. She and the band then busted into a cover of “Bitch Better Have My Money.” It was the kind of idea only Rubedo would think of, and the kind only Rubedo could have pulled off. 
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Isa Jones is an editor in Jackson Hole; her writing has appeared all over the Internet and occasionally in print.
Contact: Isa Jones

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