Jeff Greinke / Vidna Obmana / Ure Thrall
Commerce Street Artist's Warehouse
Saturday, February 25
Seattle-based Greinke, who has been likened to Brian Eno and ambient composer Jon Hassell, used a small bag of tricks to create what sounded like an entire planet within the confines of a cold Commerce Street Warehouse. The sound mix was excellent, allowing complex elements to stand out whole and clear. Sampled instrumental and percussive sounds were gorgeously layered and intertwined into pieces running the spectrum from pristine to primal. Greinke's performance suggested storytelling in sound, providing all the drama, suspense and captivation a storyteller evokes. And although a one-man show can be visually bland, Greinke created an ambiance such that I'd swear the walls took on the likeness of a Brazilian rainforest, and audience members that of dreamy aborigines. On the down side, Greinke didn't play his slide trombone nearly enough, and his vocals, while interesting, were restrained.
Belgian-born Vidna Obmana's music was less gravity-based. But for the occasional percussion loop, his compositions are almost entirely atmospheric. Employing the aboriginal djurydu, which he plays impressively, and a Korg synthesizer reprogrammed with original sounds, Obmana created the sort of rootless aural soundscape that's made him number one on London's ambient chill charts. Ambient music is often intended as a frame of reference for meditation or mental meanderings -- meanderings at points compelling, and at others sending this reviewer to the bathroom.
At show's end, amidst a cloud of incense smoke, Houston's Ure Thrall wheeled in his equipment in a shopping cart to play a five-minute set. Good or bad, it was over too quickly to tell. Smelled great, though.
-- Pamela Passmore
Thursday, March 3
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The now-defunct Road Kings had a bunch of happy fans, and a good number of the greaser gang showed up to see Jessie Dayton's debut fronting the newly formed Alamo Jets. When a musician bails out of an established act, you've gotta wonder, but in this case, there doesn't seem to be much reason for second-guessing, because the Jets are one tight-assed country and western band.
Tom Lewis's drums keep the country rocking, and steel player Brian Thomas can slash when he wants to. Dayton has stepped even more fully into the lead man's role, and he wears it like I imagine a younger, earthier-voiced Chris Isaak would have. Some of the new material sounds like it's stretching -- actually, restraining -- for the sake of country radio, but the rockers in the set burned.
Dayton's voice keeps that rockabilly edge that draws the Isaak comparison, but the Jets are more accurately a country band, from train-rhythmed honky-tonk to mellow crooning ballads. Jessie "it's-all-fuckin'-four-chords-and-an-attitude-so-pay-the-cover-and-come-on-in" Dayton doesn't much seem to mind mixing it up, though, especially if he can wear a snappy suit and a pompadour while he's playing it.
-- Brad Tyer