Saturday night at Doc Watson’s in Exton was quite a mixed bag. The night began with instrumental math rock act B1nary Cur10us, in from New Jersey. The three piece took the stage in full-body green man suits, though as they got sweatier some felt the need to remove the face mask portion. Sweatier they got, too, rocking out enthusiastically regardless of response or lack thereof from the mostly confused crowd. Occasionally shouting over the music and interjecting their set with mostly sexual jokes, they were clearly unconcerned, playing their technically driven style with gusto one rarely sees outside of a DIY house show.
The following act, The Formless Form, were similarly experimental, though substantially more subdued. After setting up their elaborate system of pedals and processing for both vocals and instruments, they launched into a set that would probably be filed under electronic post-rock if not for the occasional inclusion of guitarist Wade Hampton’s vocals. Also a trio, bassist Dave Sanford and drummer Angelo Gonzalez fill out the lineup, with Gonzalez’ kit perhaps the smallest setup of any onstage. The sounds they were able to produce with all that equipment were mind-boggling, and would be most at home on the soundtrack of a sci-fi movie or video game. You can download some of those tracks for free at their Soundcloud page.
The Aponic Blue was the big local draw for the night: a family band with extensive experience around the region, they were positively beaming to have a hometown venue to play. Their set began with a disco backbeat from drummer Kyle Newlin, added a crunchy guitar lick from his father Tommy, a funky bassline from cousin Nate, and topped it off with some old-fashioned diva vocals from cousin Nicole. Soon they were all adding “hey hey hey”s and the show was underway, the hometown crowd chanting and dancing along. By the time they closed with “Rain”, which some audience members began shouting for halfway through the set, the power ballad was a well-earned release from the long build-up they’d kept going from the start. In a rock’n'roll tradition of a more recent vintage than the ’80s and ’90s influences they were channeling, the crowd emptied out onto the patio for cigarettes as the night’s third and final trio, Tropical Nasty, prepared for their closing set.
The respite was brief, however, the blues trio experienced in rapid set-ups and tear-downs for busking and festivals. The latter will probably be getting more common for them, as they put on a jaw-dropping show. In the course of the night, guitarist Dave Tepper played with his teeth, behind his head, and crouching over the guitar as it lay on the floor, all while using what looked like a shoe string as a guitar strap. Bassist Collin Bunch is no slouch either, throwing a unique, danceable take on everything from the jazziest version of “My Generation” I’ve ever heard to lengthy original jam sessions. Both of them harmonize impeccably as well, along with drummer Myke Anthony, even swapping off leads from time to time. This is a phenomenally talented band, moving effortlessly from their own music to making the music of others their own with an attitude of indifference and sardonic bemusement that works to further underscore how challenging what they’re doing actually is. For a taste of the magic, you can catch them Friday night at Red Dwarf Studios, Tuesday at Bob and Barbara’s, and next Friday at Chris’ Jazz Cafe before opening Rowan University’s Profstock festival on March 28th.
By Dave Fox | Philadelphia Ambassador | @philosofoxthedj | Beat-Play and Music Without Labels, LLC