Drums and Tuba

So, The first show that I ever went to was a band called Drums and Tuba. First and foremost, it was really cool because the tuba played the bass line. But on top of that, they did some really incredible looping of their music. They’d play a phrase, record it (live) and then loop it and play against it… this let them play against themselves and make some really incredible and almost unearthly music. The other great thing was that they took advantage of the tuba, which has a much rounder sound than a bass guitar, this tuba played melody lines, and was just as involved in the looping and the texture of the music as the guitar and drums.

I saw them about 4 years ago, and although I didn’t buy their CDs and devote my life to honouring them, I really liked their unique sound, and could you ever DANCE to the stuff (not club dancing, loose yourself in the music kind of dancing).

So, my friend M, who had taken me to the first show, called me the other day and said that they were in town again. Unfortunately I couldn’t go, and she didn’t end up going either. So she called me again the next day, and tells me that they’re playing again in Kingston the day after (which ends up being yesterday, btw). So, we decided to go, and on top of that, a member of an Ottawa band that has since broken up, Dave Lauzon, was opening, and we were really looking forward to this.

Now, Dave Lauzon’s former band, Nero also had used looping and playing counter melodies against love loops, and when we got there, Dave was in the middle of his set, and he did not disappoint. Well, he didn’t disappoint US… much of the rest of the (sparse) crowd didn’t pay much attention but these things happen. He played solo, but just listening to it, you wouldn’t be able to tell… he was playing against about 4 or 5 loops, most of the guitar, but sometimes there was also a keyboard loop in there too. It sounded like easily 4-6 musicians. Marvellous.

Then Drums and Tuba came on. Their sound had changed… significantly. The first, most obvious difference, was that there were now vocals (done by the drummer, which I thought was a nice change from all these guitar lead singers). The vocals were fine, not so easy to understand, but these things happen. Then… we realised that the tuba, which had previously played melody was almost completely masked by the guitar and the drums, and when you could hear him, it was just a basic 1-4-5 bass line (ok, maybe not THAT bland, but… almost). There was no looping. Their formerly ethereal music has morphed into just another rock band. From time to time there were hints of the “jam band” mentality that they formerly had had, but only for a minute or so at the beginning or end of select songs.

Now, the other thing I noticed was that a lot of people left DURING the Drums and Tuba set. Maybe this was because people weren’t hearing what they thought they would… maybe it was because it was a Thursday night. I dunno. Maybe there were few people to start with because all the students have left Kingston to go back home for the summer. I don’t know. But I suspect that some people who, like me, hadn’t heard them in a while, and then found out that although they were the same musicians, they weren’t making the same type of music, and so didn’t go to the show.

It’s not that the show was bad, it just wasn’t what I expected. We thought we’d bought Black Forest cake, but we ended up with doughnuts. Still good, just not what we thought we’d get.

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