Review / photos: Caribou deliver one of the year's best concerts at Crowbar
After a few weeks of non-stop shows in the Bay Area, Tampa showed up in force on Sunday night at Crowbar to see Caribou throw down a strong contender for Best Show Of The Year.
Caribou, hailing from Dundas, Ontario, is Dan Snaith. For around 10 years, he’s been releasing electro-acoustic psyched-out pop music that as interesting as it is danceable. Not only is he the brains behind the music, but he’s also got a PhD in mathematics from Imperial College London (his thesis, Overconvergent Siegel Modular Symbols, will make your head hurt).
Like it or not, music and mathematics go hand in hand. Not all musical geniuses are whiz kids at math and vice-versa. But every now and then, the two converge to form something greater than the sum.
When listening to Snaith’s music, it’s obvious that his approach to writing is one step beyond that of most musicians. He delicately structures his songs with little repeating patterns, melodies and beats that Merriam-Webster should use as the defined example of counterpoint. Snaith may not consciously use math as a composing tool all the time, but it most definitely is happening within his songs.
While he handles all of the studio work himself, for live shows Snaith sings, plays drums, guitar and synthesizer. Brad Weber on drums, John Schmersal on bass and Ryan Smith on guitar join him for tours. His live bandmates all also play several electronic gadgets in addition to or in conjunction with their main instrument. Together, they are a force to be reckoned with. Not one of Snaith’s band members are just “pretty good” at what they do. They all are stupendous musicians, as they have to be play the complexities that are created in Snaith’s head.
Caribou’s full range of music was represented throughout the night, from driving dance punctuated by dirty synths, to weird and noisy funk, to tracks that make most of the 1960s psychedelic scene seem as tame as Pat Boone. In addition to the amazing music being played, Caribou have a simple and effective light and video setup that complements their sound perfectly. A video played kaleidoscopes, prism colors and other random patterns while a few strobe lights were triggered when needed.
The night came to an end with the track Sun, from 2010’s Swim. The song was jammed out to almost twice its original length. Snaith and bassist Schmersal handled the echoed, out-of-phase vocals while the band as a whole crafted an epic display of live electronic-based music. The large Sunday night crowd soaked it all up, knowing that they had just been treated to a stunning display of musicianship that won’t be rivaled anytime in the near future.
— Gabriel Loewenberg, tbt*