Monday, September 17, 2012

The Sound of the Future:

Rubblebucket just started their futuristic, brass-packed national tour. Check out Victoria Messina's review.
The Sound of the Future
Rubblebucket at Lincoln Hall / Show Review
September 17
by Victoria Messina
The Sound of the Future
Rubblebucket at Lincoln Hall / Show Review
Performed Sep.11
Words By Victoria Messina
Rubblebucket, straight from the east coast, performs at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, IL for day one of their national tour - a show to celebrate their brand new EP, Oversaturated. They play for a jam-packed, nicely air-conditioned venue. Nicest, cleanest, newest venue I’ve been to yet. There is a huge projector above the stage that plays homemade visuals that somewhat distract from Athens, GA opener Reptar (Rugrats throwback, anyone?), which doesn’t say much for the group but props for showing up. The lead singer Graham Ulicny sounds somewhat like Cyndi Lauper. Worth at least a second listen. They put the screen away for Rubblebucket. Ah yes, Rubblebucket. Plenty of sweet things to say.

First of all, let’s talk musicality. A brass band trio, electric guitar, bass, percussion, organ, synthesizer, whatever a n’goni is, female front woman - they’ve really got it all. Harmonizing space-age beats with atmospheric swirling just begs the listener to dance and swing, to jump up and down with hands in the air without those silly cares. Though labeled as alternative, Rubblebucket are many genres rolled into one, or no genre at all. They should not be labeled, but rather be known as the band that stands alone against all the others that sound the same. Got to hand it to bandleader and trumpeter Alex Toth, the brass really pumps energy into the crowd, something that was missing before they took the stage. Can’t forget to mention that all of Rubblebucket whistle beautifully, which ups their already above-average coolness another 300% and left at least one audience member awestruck and envious. Musicality, people! Does your band of choice have it?

Secondly, theatricality! Let’s set the scene. Reptar has finished playing half an hour ago. People are waiting patiently. Lights are out, don’t forget the screen is up. Suddenly, what do you hear but something similar to that THX sound from the movies. Youtube it if you can’t imagine it. As Rubblebucket enters the stage, around their necks they wear what seem to be enormous clocks, but are really giant LED circles of light. Fog fills the air. Pink and green neon scarves are tied to the mic stands. Everything glows iridescently in the dark. Cue the music, it’s from outer space. That opening killer sound effect? It is the ship taking off to transport the crowd through time to the future! And now we listen to the new-age-indie-electric-big-band stylings of Rubblebucket. They play. They take us on a spaceship ride.

Lead vocalist Kalmia Travers switches back and forth between the mic and the saxophone (hello, Musicality). The trombone and trumpet take center stage to form the band’s signature sound, while the electric guitar and bass act as the undercurrent and stand further upstage. Maybe they should be more prominent, but that’s not really the group’s style. What is clear is that Rubblebucket is more than rock. Add the synthesizer, maybe sprinkle the organ here and there - it’s a recipe that works. The band has done their job and baked one hell of a cake. They create an atmosphere that can be felt on another dimension. The disco ball lights shoot and whirr around the darkness, floating and twirling around like champagne corks in zero gravity instead of spinning lazily in a circle.

Which leads to point number three: Dance-ability. At some point, Travers yells, “Are you guys ready to get weird?” Enter the scene: dancing robots made out of aluminum foil and PVC pipe. A show like this must be experienced for the full effect. Everything has culminated to a point: a full-on dance party made complete with high-fiving robots named Sam and Bert, who don’t stick to the stage but squeeze in the throngs of the crowd to shake a leg and pass out some palm slaps. As the dance party climaxes during renditions of “Heart of Glass” and “Rapture” by Blondie, electric guitarist Ian Hersey gets his moment to shine. The robots shuffle the audience around like a deck of cards. What a way to break that fourth wall between the performers and the performance while still keeping with their futuristic theme. Theatricality at its finest.

The show goes on. They invite some fans to dance with them onstage for the finale. Plenty of hugs go around. Everyone sings Happy Birthday to the synthesizer player, Darby Wolf. Though they play for only an hour, they play two encores, everybody wins. So what’s left to know? Want to listen to real music? Want to see how a show should be done? Want to dance like a fiend? Then the answer is Rubblebucket, a really down to earth octet, happy to be in Chicago to play and promote their music.

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Rubblebucket is currently on their Oversaturated release tour. They're trudging around out west before they head back east so check out if they’ll be in your area.

Go to high-five a robot.

For some divine whistling listening and some badass brass, listen to “Came Out of a Lady”. “Pain from Love”, featuring that synthasizing, organ-izing future sound from their new EP, is definitely worth a try as well.
Posted september 17, 2012

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