Garnder hosts a Cave in the Woods

The spelunkers in Gardner last Friday night exploring Cave, a Krautrock band based in Chicago, were treated to a show driven by a sometimes explosive, sometimes ambling rhythm section and sharp guitar.

“The concert went really well,” Grinnell Concerts Chair Pooj Padmaraj ’13 said. “The songs they played were really long—more so than on their record. … You really got into a kind of trance-like state.”

A sense of dark urgency, provided by snappy drummer Rex McMurry and dynamic keyboardist Rotten Milk, pervaded the 90 minute set, and many of the spelunkers dug such cavernous sounds. Indeed, the band’s aptitude would probably have induced visceral emotions regardless of the help that the cultural holiday they performed on gave them.
“I’ve been pretty disappointed with the psych-prog-rock scene in Iowa City,” Graham Klemme, a 2nd year at the University of Iowa said after the show. “After seeing Cave, I’m definitely going to try to transfer to Grinnell.”

Cave was the penultimate performance of the year hosted by Concerts (the last show was Woods on Tuesday), but Padmaraj says that Concerts is collaborating with the AAA [Asian American Association] to bring hip-hop/spoken word artist John Vietnam to Bob’s in early May. Padmaraj, who was just approved to return to his position as Concerts Chair for another year, is also currently working on booking bands for the ’12-’13 school year.

“Agents are now sending in their bands that are going to be routed across the nation,” Padmaraj said. “Concerts is going through them and looking for what we want.” As always, music-minded individuals are encouraged to attend concerts meetings and help select bands for the upcoming year.

Having only listened to Woods long enough to vaguely classify them as a lo-fi Fleet Foxes, I was eager to see how their studio recordings translated into a live show. Lo-fi acts can often sound much warmer and fuller in concert due to the additional amplification, as Best Coast demonstrated during their Fall 2010 Gardner set.

Though certainly amplified, Woods largely ditched their glowing harmonies for mid-song jam breakdowns exploring their psychedelic realm. In addition to dilutions of the songs from their studio, they also brought incense, which sat smoking on the table of “tape effects technician” G. Lucas Crane. He sat in the middle of the stage, bouncing over lights and knobs, with a pair of overhead headphones sideways on his head, one cup on the back of his head and the other over his mouth, evoking Batman’s villain Bane.

Woods displayed plenty of musicianship; members switched instruments several times, playing each with skill and crisply harmonized. Unfortunately, numerous songs, ranging from blues to folk, began promisingly, eventually devolved into Crane spinning dials of psychedelic sonar in Morse code out to a largely motionless crowd of about 30. This was followed by a gently strummed riff that slowly built to a much needed break.

I hold nothing against jam bands. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest meant attending plenty of jam and ska shows, which I enjoyed. However, a breakdown should be a unique experience. Merely repeating the same process becomes mechanical and trying for the listener. The apparent grand finale bout of psychedelia, which came during their last song, finally broke my patience after 10 minutes, and I tiredly left before the inevitable resurgence of sonic order.