by Parker Langvardt

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan @ Schubas on 5/18/2012

With two hand-painted clouds made of cardboard on the front of the stage, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan guitarist John Ancheta and keyboardist Brendan Swanson began making atmospheric sounds with their instruments, accompanied by booming recordings of thunder. Drummer Alaska B and the band's lighting tech Alana Ruth were also on stage when vocalists Ruby Kato Attwood and Ange Loft walked through the crowd carrying a black and white paper dragon over their heads. Attwood wore a compact, paper headdress with a sort of royal appearance, while Loft had more of a wig-like headdress with many long black strands that draped down past her waist like flat dreadlocks.

The thunder led into "Queens," from their debut self-titled album, with deep, swirling organ. The vocalists started off slightly timid - it was the first show of the first Yamantaka // Sonic Titan tour, after all - but they became more confident as the suspense built toward the first rolling drum fill and guitar riff. By the time they hit the pulsing bridge, everything had fallen perfectly into place. The second song they played (not from the album) was a slow, psychedelic piece with light organ and distorted bass. The heavy "Reverse Crystal // Murder of a Spider" was followed by drumming and syncopated chanting. Loft took off her headdress at some point, and Attwood danced fluidly with a large paper fan in hand. "Hoshi Neko," the closest Yamantaka // Sonic Titan has gotten to writing a pop song, led into feedback, noise, and dissonant, atonal melodies reminiscent of an Indonesian Gamelan orchestra and jazz keyboardist Sun Ra. It eventually merged into the fast, pulsing "A Star Over Pureland," highlighted by high-pitched primal vocals. They closed with "Crystal Fortress Over The Sea of Trees," which could be considered a companion to "A Star Over Pureland" with its noisy sections that include chiming Asian arpeggios, wordless vocal melodies, and more wild organ.

The dance-oriented openers weren't entirely appropriate, but each put on a good performance in their own right. Supreme Cuts used drum pads and a sampler/sequencer to create smooth, upbeat songs with minor vocal samples. Eight Bit Tiger was a little farther off-base from the headliner, using guitars and keyboards to create funk and synth-pop that got the crowd dancing. Seeing the audience shrink a bit after Eight Bit Tiger, I couldn't help but wonder if there was really no experimental rock band in town that could have benefited Yamantaka // Sonic Titan at least a little bit more.

Check out my interview with Ruby Kato Attwood of Yamantaka // Sonic Titan HERE, and some videos from the show below.



All videos by Sei Jin Lee
May 22 - Saskatoon, SK @ Amigo's Cantina
May 23 - Edmonton, AB @ Pawn Shop
May 27 - Seattle, WA @ Barboza ^
May 28 - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge ^
May 31 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill ^
June 1 - Los Angeles, CA @ Eagle Rock Center for the Arts ^
June 2 - San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar ^
June 5 - Marfa, TX @ Padre's Marfa ^
June 6 - Austin, TX @ Mohawk ^
June 7 - New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks ^
June 8 - Birmingham AL @ Bottletree Cafe ^
June 9 - East Atlanda, GA @ The Earl ^
June 11 - Washington DC @ DC9
June 12 - Philadelphia, PA @ Kungfu Necktie
June 13 - New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
June 20 - Montreal, QC @ Theatre Plaza St-Hubert
June 22 - Calgary, AB @ Theatre Junction Grand
June 23 - Calgary, AB @ Theatre Junction Grand

^ w/ Xiu Xiu and Father Murphy

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