Local band Fat Moth have been something of a sleeping giant lately. After touring with their first album last summer they’ve been somewhat secretive and, apart from the occasional show, haven’t performed regularly for several months. Last weekend however, they made a comeback at Warehouse. It’s evident from the quality of that show that their time away has been spent hard at work.
Now boasting seven members (including two drummers/percussionists), they have literally become bigger and better. The somewhat laid back psychedelic rock that defines their debut LP has given way to something precise, deliberate and utterly enthralling. Such a large band might have been a hindrance to less talented musicians, but none of the space is wasted. Every band member has a specific role that adds to the whole experience without taking away from other band members. And what an experience it is: Fat Moth played a lot of new tracks for Warehouse, which represent a definitive turning point for their sound. The new material rocks harder and pushes boundaries further, cranking up the psychedelic experience in some places while also emphasizing folk roots in others. Between outer-space guitar sounds, deep soulful grooves and huge sounds that Fat Moth hadn’t explored before now, it’s safe to say that we can expect some magical things from the group this year.
But Fat Moth weren’t the only band to grace the stage that evening. Opening act Barbarosa set the tone perfectly by doing a little bit of everything. They opened with some breezy synthpop, moved into folksy western territory and explored every iteration of indie rock during their short set. Such an eclectic range of music might have staggered another group, but Barbarosa never missed a beat. Every song felt like a movie, perfectly capturing a specific mood and creating an entire world out of it. Even their instrumentation was unique. Barbarosa doesn’t have a ‘lead’ instrument as most bands do. While focus does shift between instruments, it feels like each is part of something bigger, as opposed to other bands that might just feel like backing for one particular member or instrument. Barbarosa is greater than the sum of its parts. Don’t let the acoustic guitar fool you; the music is experimental, with a unique sound that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.
Stealing the show were The Beelays, a Hamilton ensemble playing everything from jazz to prog to classic rock in an incredible melting pot of music. I can’t remember the last time I watched something so genuinely sensational. The Beelays are a force of nature, an unstoppable power that have to be seen to be believed. Even before they took to the stage they made a huge impression on me with their unique merch stall. Instead of a specific line of clothing, the band sourced one-of-a-kind shirts and dresses from thrift stores and brought everyone’s sewing talents together to brand them with the band’s logo.
With six members, the sound of The Beelays is huge. What’s astounding though is how well the six members blend together, never stepping on anyone else’s toes or muddying up the sound. They have two dedicated lead singers, whose incredible voices are a perfect combination of soulful crooning and rock ‘n’ roll power. They knew how to work a crowd as well; getting an audience outside of your hometown to clap and sing along to your original songs is no easy feat but they pulled it off.
The keyboard and lead guitar player also weave in and out of each other fantastically, with mind-bending riffs and earth-shattering solos delivered by unparalleled talents. Even the legendary Rick Wakeman would struggle to hold his own against the awesome power of The Beelays’ keyboard player. That’s to say nothing of their guitarist either, who combined the funk of John Frusciante with the fury of Jimi Hendrix, all the while maintaining a voice distinctively his own.
The bassist and drummer held the group together with deep grooves and complex rhythms that never failed to get the crowd moving. There are a lot of moving parts to this music and the drummer not only kept everyone together, but at times led the charge with some incredible beats that would have made for great listening even on their own. Their bassist, too, was simply mesmerizing; it’s not often a band lets their bass player shine, but the Warehouse audience was treated to an out-of-this-world solo in the final song. The Beelays have stuck true to their jazz roots by letting everyone try everything. Lesser acts would have turned this into an incoherent mess, but The Beelays know exactly what they’re doing and they do it brilliantly.
All of this was tied together by some of the most creative music I’ve heard from a local act in a long while. Time signatures changed at a moment’s notice, every chorus got the crowd singing and each member of the band got an opportunity to shine. Personality is bursting from the seams of this band and they are sure to leave a huge impression on you.