Artist: The Aristocrats
Venue: Gramercy Theatre (New York, NY)
Opener: Travis Larson Band
Since I don’t always find myself getting to Progressive Music shows, I was really happy to be able to be on point for the recent appearance by a collective that I would say falls into the realm of Supergroup in terms of each members background. I am talking about none other than The Aristocrats, a group that formed in 2011 and features Guthrie Govan on guitar, Bryan Beller on bass and the inimitable Marco Minnemann on the drums. They would hit the ever popular Gramercy Theatre for an evening of mind-altering Progressive melodies and be joined by The Travis Larson Band. Going in I had no idea about the sound of either group, so I was very much looking forward to the musical education that I was in store for. Here is how the night progressed.
The TLB hit the stage promptly and based on my observations of the crowd in attendance had quite a few fans of their own in the audience. I love seeing this and I think we find more of this being the case during Progressive Music shows. The audience is a little more tolerant of the lead off act and not as rabid as those of a crushing Heavy Metal show. Maybe I am wrong, but I don’t see that happening much at these shows at all which is a welcome thing. According to the leader of the combo, Mr. Travis Larson himself, the band has been together for at least a decade and have toured with The Aristocrats before. That’s a nice tight connection to have and while I didn’t know any of their songs (all without vocals of course) there was some amazing display of technique from Larson who was accompanied by Jennifer Young on Bass and Dale Moon on the drums. The changeover was quick and did give those who wished to grab a fresh drink the chance to do so. The show was seated and with no photography pit so I had to ply part of my craft from a distance and luckily I had a good seat and wasn’t as far from the front as I could have been.
The changeover was quick as there isn’t a lot of stage set dressing involved in the band’s presentation, just their main instruments and the amps needed to propel their sound out to the far walls. They would open with a number called “Blues Fuckers” and it was here that I learned that all of their material would also be instrumentals. I didn’t mind since its been awhile since I’ve sat through a show like this and after hearing this number feel that these guys should be labelled as “Power Fusion” since some of it can be very, very heavy without touching the realms of Metal at all. Some of you might remember that Marco and Guthrie toured with the great Steven Wilson for a couple of tours and the musical connection here tonight was nothing less than tight. Bryan spoke after the first number to talk about the second. He had said an early music review of the group likened them to a D-Grade Fuck Movie Jam and that is why they called a song that very title. Hey if it works it works. This would be the first song of the groups new album which is entitled “You Know What…..” and it would lead us into three other new numbers “Spanish Eddie” and “When We All Come Together”. I had to say that despite my being an ingenue I was greatly enjoying the presentation. There would be five new tunes played tonight according to the setlist and my comparing the new album track listing.
While there was no guitar solo to speak of outside of the virtuosity being displayed by Guthrie, we did get an absolute thrill ride of a drum solo by Marco during I believe “Desert Tornado”. As someone who pursued a life care of this instrument I had to say that I was glued to my seat from the moment he began until the very end when everyone stood up and cheered and served back overwhelming applause. Minnemann is truly a master at this and did stuff that at times could only be considered superhuman.
The band was very chatty and told quite a few stories across the span of the night. One such story involved Beller sharing how he had some equipment stolen and while the culprit eventually was caught – none of his stuff was among the recovered items. That had to suck for sure. Guthrie enjoyed a pint of beer at one point and discussed the finer points of the beer from his side of the pond against ours. I don’t think he is a fan of our supply of the stuff but oh well, you can’t win them all. There were a couple of more to share but I will leave those to your own discovery should you attend a show in case some of these stories are a part of the regular script.
Closing up, I have to say that I’d love to catch them again in the future since the overall musicianship is outstanding. Of course I am not too fond of seated shows and prefer to do that to get a little bit of a recharge but that was the setup for this evening and not my call. I think if you are a fan of modern, well-thought out Progressive music then you need to catch The Aristocrats. From here the band was heading to Daryl’s House which is of course Daryl Hall of the legendary Hall and Oates. Good stuff and for a newbie like me to be so impressed I think that is saying something.
1. Blues Fuckers
2. D-Grade Fuck Movie Jam
3. Spanish Eddie
4. When We All Come Together
5. The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde
6. Get It Like That
7. Last Orders
8. The Kentucky Meat Shower
9. Desert Tornado
11. Smuggler’s Corridor