Black Moth Super Rainbow @ Neumos, 05.08.12
Sometimes a little mystery goes a long way. Enigmatic almost to a fault, Black Moth Super Rainbow exist in a very unique space that they've created and that they control. The band has performed in masks, crouched and obscured from crowd view, and purposefully avoided interviews and general limelight. Their sound is something of an old science film soundtrack (at least if you were born in the 70's; I have no idea how much science film soundtracks changed in the past couple decades) strained at times through dreamy or creepy elements. Walls of analog keyboards and singer Tobacco's constantly vocoder-ed out vocals are the foundation of the Black Moth Super Rainbow sound.
Live, the band has the capacity to be incredibly enlightening or slightly frustrating. I've seen the band open up for the Flaming Lips and translate incredibly concisely to a stadium crowd, using the natural reverb of a room to make their sound even more spaced out and massive but still remaining tightly focused. I've also seen them play smaller rooms like an art school house party, with folks toking up beside me and the band smiling and feeding off the energy of a smaller room.
At Neumos last night, you had to dig a bit to find either one of those bands. Don't get me wrong; everything sounded phenomenal. The band previewed quite a bit of material from their forthcoming record, and it all fits in quite comfortably with the previous BMSR canon, but with a bit more added hip hop element (I heard a lot of "motherfuckers" under all that vocoder) and shoegaze-y guitar to give the band another element to their impenetrable wall of sound. Sweepingly cinematic at times, it wouldn't be all that weird to see Black Moth sharing a bill sometime with, say, Explosions In The Sky. All of the weird, bubbling, modulated lows of the band's sound came through and rattled the room, and the soaring keyboard leads that merely glisten on record became melodic laser beams that seem to extend to the heavens. But open your eyes and look on stage, and it felt like a show the band was a little over it. The band has always been a bit shy/polite/awkward, but their interaction with the crowd was minimal last night, to say the least. Whereas their video presentations in the past have been concise and tied to their songs a bit closer, last night's video was a long few shots of a creepy Klingon-esque guy walking around a cemetery, sitting around a cemetery, watching trees blow in the wind in a cemetery; it's a far cry from the 80's VHS carnage that typically accompanies the band and makes their sets feel like channel surfing on acid. Perhaps the band is pushing away from the 80's carnage to avoid becoming a band that plays while TV is on. Maybe they've always been that calm onstage but having a 30 foot tall Richard Simmons dancing and smiling at you made the energy level hop up that much more.
San Francisco's Lumerians opened up with a set that visually bore some resemblance to the Black Moth video projections of old, as frantic, colorful images flittered all over their spaced out, dance-y drone. While the band's vocals were a little ragged (and Space Echo'd all over the place), Lumerians' loping percussion and jarring guitar leads made for a really loose, fluid set that never lacked energy.