Bosnian Rainbows (Feat. Omar Rodríguez-López) at The Garage, Highbury, London, October 3 2012
By Christopher Oliver
I should be clear right here and now that, though advertised as such, this was not an Omar Rodríguez-López Group show. No, this was a tour booked instead to showcase the man’s latest project, something he identifies as his new band and something he’ll “be focusing on a lot more”.
But first, Mono/Poly: Brainfeeder crew member and fairly new to our shores, he’s been stalking the circumferences of the LA beat scene for a little while. His set, the opener on the bill (a rare thing with any Rodríguez-López show), seemed a little longer than many appeared to be willing to endure. Briefly scouring the crowd for reactions, I saw many a head turn in bemusement, some exhalations perhaps long-drawn, extolling patience for what turned out to be one very long amalgamation of sound, for roughly 50 minutes.
I feel I (sort of) get what Mono/Poly is trying to do with his aesthetic, the cluster of shorter compositions coming off as something akin to what the The Gaslamp Killer achieves in his work. There are slow jams, hip-hop, rawer beats, bass-led grooves and even a section of breaks. He certainly has a similar stage presence to GLK too; jabbing his arms in the air, slamming behind his laptop, occasionally spewing words into his microphone that only some of us can hope to understand. Mid-set, there was an exceptional remix of M.I.A’s ‘Paper Planes’ – I sware I also heard what was originally Busta Rhymes in there? Unfortunately, some of the low-end wobble reminded me of one bespectacled producer I dare not – nay, choose not – to name, but despite that, Mono/Poly is an interesting signing from Lopez and I would still say one to watch
The London show is actually the second time I’ve seen Bosnian Rainbows and they continue to be exceptional, the first time being their first jaunt to the UK in Brighton. A quartet, the group is comprised of Deantoni Parks (Mars Volta/Dark Angels), Nicci Kasper (Dark Angels), Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes) and of course Rodríguez-López. The music the band produce is a mercurial, dizzying, electroclash-but-not-quite, future-punk monster of a sound. Teri has such a huge stage presence beyond any lame comparison music journalists may wish to concoct. Charismatic, domineering and a voice in a deeper register, but just as bold and talented as Kate Bush. The setup is based around synthesisers and a simple drum rig, which incidentally, Parks plays with one hand whilst playing his own keyboard.
Highlights for me included: Teri crowd surfing mid-set, simply falling onto the audience and letting herself be carried away during one of the more kraut-inspired elements of the show. ‘Turtle Neck’, a beautiful sauntering song on which Rodríguez-López lends his vocals to a duet with the first lady. Omar’s speech, before the last song of the set ‘Better Off’ (my personal favourite, a massive spellbinding track where Teri’s vocals lead off into eternity,) took the time to thank the crowd for “even coming out of your houses to see us play”. Though he seemed a little frustrated as every word was crowded out with rapturous applause, it’s a humble gesture that he’s offered, from what I can gather, every night of the tour, sans microphone I might add. The end of the set is topped by the group jumping down to the stage front, in order to shake hands with audience members prior to their departure. A shame I couldn’t do the same, they deserved it. Go see them.