By: Ryan Mannix | Photos: Dale Foster Photo
EGi was the main attraction at Bottom Lounge on Saturday, celebrating the release of Plyatron with a set that kicked off with the titular instrumental, setting the stage for 90 minutes of dancing to the Chicago crowd.
Noted: EGi has managed to cultivate an electronic sound, but without the use of a keyboardist. Both guitarists and the bassist use an array of effects pedals to build lush soundscapes, while the drummer drives the music with a steady groove.
While initially concerned that the layers of synths and overdubs that provide the recording with its distinctive sound but be lost in the live show, I was pleased to observe that the songs felt full and energetic. EGi's track “Headphones L” recalls Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, a song about surrendering yourself to the music. And while the tune as performed didn't stray too far from the Plyatron version, it really got the crowd moving.
The band segued into some more heavy Rage Against The Machine-esque territory: rap-rock vocals, and distorted riffs, which further served to energize the crowd. Most songs are a showcase for guitarist Noe Perez, a versatile and intense player, capable of shredding but also in crafting melodic passages that drive the group to their next peak.
Ethereal Groove, Incorporated gave the crowd exactly what they wanted, and what their full name suggests: hard driving danceable tunes that are big enough, and open enough to got lost in.
But the show was about more than the headliner, following the script of promoter All Star Vibe's "Stash" series which puts together multi-band bills seasonally.
Although EGi headlined, Chachuba closed out the night, and the contrast in styles was actually a perfect fit for the late night portion of the four-band bill. Their low-key psychedelic style was probably the most sonically ambitious performance of the night, building layer after layer of synths into a wash of sound. The approach worked well for a crowd who had already been sated with their share of rock peaks.
This space-y sound was always accompanied by heavy, driving dance beats, and kept the crowd moving until 2 a.m.
The hazy hour-long rave barely took a breather, and seemed to contain only a handful of actual songs. These guys are built for the music festival scene, and I could see them playing an endless early morning set somewhere in the future.
J.J and Dre started the evening off with some southern style stompers and sing-alongs. Although not as jammy as the other groups on the stage, they had a fun, warm charisma. Some nice guitar and harmonica work at the end of the set got a great response, as did the presence by Family Groove Company bassist Janis Wallin throughout.
The Ars Nova brought their alternative, blues-based jam sound out in the number two slot. They definitely had the most diverse sound of the evening, and a few of their tunes were just catchy enough to hum later.
Still, the group relies a lot on heavy riffs, which usually saw the crowd head banging along. Perfect example of their song/hard rock dichotomy: one the set's highlights was a cover of Van Morrison's “Moondance” that included a talk box solo. Nice work!