unchained melody

sunday night was a great one for music at tonic. an excellent bill put together by stars like fleas, with akron/family and pandatone rounding things out.

pandatone is a one-man band that does a great version of the sort of glitchy indiepop/laptop music released on labels such as morr music or carpark records. this music has gotten so much low-key attention it's spawned the insanely successful hybrid the postal service and even its own genre name: indietronica. trevor was charmingly self-deprecating and held together the uplifting music with a guitar and a laptop, some of the laptop pieces sounding like they were manipulated from his guitar. as shannon from stars like fleas agreed, it has a personality about it that sets it apart from any standard attempts at following this genre. the show was made more visually entertaining by projections from video artist mumbleboy, whose colorful looping cartoons of people, animals, and robots (such as the one above) went perfectly with the music.

akron/family then settled in for an hour of incredible music. they veer back and forth between short pieces and brilliant improvisation that puts most so-called "jam bands" to shame. how they make an ordinary four-piece rock band into something that bears no resemblance to such a thing is amazing. a sort of naive country-folk is mixed with little noises and loops, multi-part harmonies, and occasionally swells into powerful noisy sections or long drones that have your head reeling. they have a few impossible-to-find releases out, but hopefully soon we'll get to hear their new CD for young god records.

finally, stars like fleas took to a stage lit only by a household lamp. using a baby grand piano, acoustic guitar, banjo, saxophone, live drums, and computer processing and rhythms, they created a beautiful and unique sound world. singer/mastermind montgomery's voice was like that of a little boy grown up but still lost. no wonder, with the band barreling and meandering through barely adjacent genres with an ease that should embarass most musicians. avant-folk, jazz, experimental, glitch, indie rock, and more were touched on in the all-too-brief set.

it was a really good crowd for a sunday night. all 3 bands were still there by the end, chatting with each other about the show. it was a great show of mutual support all around.

the title of this post comes from the song of the same name by the righteous brothers. i actually never much cared for their version, preferring the cover banged out by u2. in any case, here it's a reference to the kinds of elusive but powerful melodies wielded by these bands.