by Ricky Haldis
On Tuesday evening, a crowd of diverse music-lovers ascended the dark, dingy staircase that led to the stage area of Johnny Brenda’s on Girard. The air in the room was cool, and a massive cloud of smoke from the fog machine loomed below the ceiling. An impressively sizable crowd populated the intimate room well before the first band took the stage. The overall appearance of the dungeon-like room created a somber, yet strangely comfortable atmosphere, which would soon be complimented by the trio of musical acts of the night.
As the overhead lights dimmed, the first band called The Cobbs, a local act, took the stage and instantly gained the undivided attention of the scattered crowd. The five-piece sent out a massive wall of sound, and released a hypnotizing energy into the room. Their sound focused on two guitarists, who would trade melodies, and vocal harmonies. Their heavy reliance on modulation and delay based effects gave them a very psychedelic characteristic. The tight and calculated drummer propelled the band through their catalog while the keyboardist created a thick, mesmerizing soundscape occasionally making use of his theremin that screamed and wailed over the band. The Cobbs quickly proved that they were not only virtuoso musicians, but they they could easily have stolen the spotlight for the entire night.
The crowd dispersed after the band finished their final number, many wandering up to the balcony that overlooked and surrounded the front of the stage. Grooms quickly gathered on stage and the lights dimmed again. The band cut into an impressive opening song and regained the crowds attention. Immediately, their technical ability was much less evident than their predecessors, which interestingly seemed to complement their style. Their music was dreamy and entrancing, but every time they stopped between songs an awkwardness hung in the air, thicker than the smoke that still lingered in the room. The very same awkwardness was evident in their stage presence which seemed over-rehearsed at some points, but again, it worked oddly well with their hypnotic sound.
Grooms earned a respectable round of applause as a quartet of very experienced looking musicians, known as Clinic, arranged their equipment on the stage before quickly retreating backstage. After a few minutes, a group of surgical-masked men, who the audience eventually realized were the same four men, returned to the stage and exploded into their first song. They immediately established that they took from a wide variety of influences, from psychedelic rock to dubstep. The musicians impressed the crown with their ability to each play several different instruments. Among the standard twin guitar, bass and drum arrangements, they incorporated a keyboard, a melodica, a drum sampler, and even a clarinet. The venue’s light rig greatly enhanced the impact of the band with dynamic combinations of lights and lasers. Clinic easily got the crowd to dance, and their hour-long set extended even longer after a three-song encore. The room quickly emptied after they finished their set, and the bands waited at a merchandise table near the door to thank the audience for coming, and concluded the lengthy night of psychedelic music and dancing.