Tera Melos & Zorch Live @ The Basement: Columbus, Ohio

Tera Melos

“There’s kind of a weird vibe. I’m not sure how to read you guys.”

Before this stage confession from the Tera Melos frontman, Nick Reinhart, it was hard to argue the matter – there was a weird vibe.

Tuesday night show attendance numbers, by all approximations are almost always unimpressive by standard industry standards. Even well supported bands with strong buzz, solid followings, and killer tunes are subject to the same awkward dance of playing to a not-so crowded house as bands less accomplished or promoted.

Columbus’ The Basement is such a fitting proving ground for hopeful youngbloods and veterans reborn alike and arguably, for Sargent House labelmates Tera Melos and Zorch, this Basement show will be talked about and talked up with strange affection for many years.

Tera Melos

The Simpsons-obsessed Sacramento experimental rock trio,Tera Melos are no stranger to these kind of shows. After 10+ years of making the kind of prog punk instrumental madness that would earn them a “band’s band” tag, Nick Reinhart (guitar + vox), Nate Latona (bass), and John Clardy (drums) are well-seasoned, well-travelled, and well on their way to seeing this year’s brave new departure, X’ed Out pop up on a lot more radars and end-of-year best lists. Still, legacies must be respected, so It came as no surprise when the group’s myth-making performance was filled with the kind of acrobatic feats of musical complexity you’d expect from a band still mistaken for math rock.

The clear crowd pleasing winners though were the alt pop-centric melodies, sunny vocal harmonies, and straight-on rock hooks of X’ed Out tracks like “Sunburn,” “Until Lufthansa,” and “Weird Circles.”

That overwhelmingly positive audience reaction on this cold Autumn weeknight should be seen as paydirt for an experimental music group who dared to experiment with their sound and created something more conventional, but no less cool.

On another night at the same venue, Tera Melos could have played to a nearly sold out crowd, but as the trio quickly learned following Nick’s admission of confusion, the crowd who was there, was there for a reason and a democratic vote of “Two more songs!” made sure the band knew they were welcome and the modest crowd was thankful.

Zorch

Zorch is aural LSD and their live show is quite the spectacular, unexpected trip.

After just 5 minutes into their set, the experimental avant-electro freak pop duo from Austin, TX known as Zorch could have easily walked off the stage and it would have been a completely satisfying experience for everyone in attendance.

It was a carnival thrill ride of daft proportion and it was mesmerizing and wonderful.

Zorch

It’s not simply that “We All Die Young” is an amazeballs beautifully psychedelic and fractured pop glory anthem (because it is), or that the equally whimsical and terrifying barrage of geometric patterns, 16-bit video game heroes, chemtrails, lasers, skeletons boning, aliens, 80s tennis players, silent film devils, scrolling text and other flashing forms of projected visual insanity was the best use of visual aid ever (because, it was).

No, it was because the level of intense joy experienced during that one opening song was equal to the level of intense joy the duo (Zac on keys/synths and Sam on drums/lead vox) were playing with and only creating more of with every passing second.

This lasted the whole 35-40 minutes of their set too.

Through the Primal Space Funk of “Mutwa”, Post-Robo Wave of “Zut Alors” , Dark Electro Soul of “Cosmic Gloss”, (and other non-existent sub-genres I just made up to describe Zorch’s music), the onslaught of surrealistic beauty was stupefying.

Zorch is aural LSD and their live show is quite the spectacular, unexpected trip.

(Be sure to look for the double feature interview with Tera Melos and Zorch in the December issue of Flush)

I’m a writer who knows more about music, film, and pop culture than I do about load bearing walls, stabilized population growth, or animal husbandry.

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