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Last Night: Octopus Project, Bring Back the Guns at Numbers

Octopus Project, Bring Back the Guns Numbers October 4, 2007

Better than: Watching the Cleveland Indians whip the New York Yankees 12-3 in Game 1 of the American League Division Series, which is saying something.

Download: “Ghost Moves” or “Vanishing Lessons” from the Octopus Project’s brand-new album, Hello, Avalanche.

After everything Bring Back the Guns went through to get their new album Dry Futures out, they should have known better than to expect the CD release show to go off without a hitch. And sure enough, when guitarist Erik Bogle plugged his instrument into his amp, it fried. Luckily he was able to borrow one from old friends/headliners Octopus Project, but, as he said later, “it’s like putting on a play and your costume’s supposed to be a tuxedo, but they say, ‘Well, all we have is this bikini.’”

If Bogle’s misfortune threw BBTG off their game any, it didn’t show during their cathartic set. Opening with Futures’ “Radio Song,” wiry frontman Matt Brownlie jerked, jumped and flung himself pell-mell across the stage, his spastic movements mirroring the music’s jittery vocals and guitar parts. Drummer Thomas Clemmons, his parts as animated as Brownlie, broke into a sheen of sweat visible from several yards away, while bassist Ryan Hull stood like a statue as his lumbering basslines acted like the glue holding BBTG’s schizophonic sound together. Their music seems to be based on duality - tension/release, quiet/loud, pensive/unhinged - and it was all there Thursday.

Photos by Chris Gray

The Octopus Project is one of those bands that one of these days could totally score a fluke massive instrumental hit. Their heavily repetitious electro-prog is about as far away from pop as you can get – it’s more like anti-pop – but it’s still infectious as hell. The heavy bass and circular chords of minor-key brooder “The Adjuster” were reminiscent of the Cure, while other songs sounded like robots running amuck. The Project is big on science fiction, especially when Yvonne Lambert gets going on the theremin, so it wasn’t a total surprise when guitarist/keyboardist Josh Lambert announced at one point, “This song is about outer space.” It was a little surprising to hear him say they recently got off tour with underground hip-hop favorite Aesop Rock, but they had no problems moving the crowd. The hail of balloons during the finale was the perfect ending, and this show kicked off Houston’s Indie Rock Weekend ’07 (Rilo Kiley, Okkervil River, Meat Puppets, Black Lips) in high style.

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Personal Bias: I’ve known the Lamberts socially for years, and they’re about the nicest people on the planet. So is drummer Toto Miranda, one of my housemates at the 21st Street Co-Op in Austin about a decade ago. Even if they were complete strangers, though, I’d still think their band is awesome.

By the Way: Apologies to openers Satin Hooks, whom I missed. I saw them at the most recent Houston Press Music Awards Showcase and recommend them highly. Unfortunately, I’m still not used to walking into a club at 9:30 p.m. and the second band of three is about to start. In Austin, they wouldn’t even be done with sound check at 9:30.

Random Detail: The Lamberts and Miranda all grew up in Houston, and both Josh and Yvonne’s parents were at the show. – Chris Gray

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