EOTO | 10.04.08 | Chicago

Words by: Herschel Concepcion | Images by: Norman Sands

EOTO :: 10.04.08 :: Portage Theater :: Chicago, IL

EOTO :: 10.04 :: Chicago
In a small room located backstage at the Portage Theater in Chicago, I ask Jason Hann what exactly influenced him and Michael Travis to pursue the heavy, beat-based electronic dance music of EOTO. Hann is all smiles as he tells me about the impromptu jam sessions that occurred whenever he stayed at Travis' Colorado home.

"Whenever I was at his place, we just wanted to set up and play music after String Cheese practice," says Hann, who served as auxiliary percussionist for The String Cheese Incident from 2006 until the band's dissolution in 2007. Travis, SCI's drummer, would play bass and guitar during the sessions, while Hann handled the drum work.

What started out as loose jamming quickly evolved into something more. They began looping some of the instrumental work, which allowed them to add extra layers to the texture of their sound. "As we started getting into some other loops and different types of programs, then it became a thing where we were like, 'Wow, what we're doing lends itself really well to dance music, which we both like.' So, we kept aiming for that direction," Hann says. "And then eventually, one of the times we listened back to things that we were recording and we were like, 'Wow, that sounds really good, let's do it front of an audience.'"

And so it began. EOTO was formed and the duo hit the road, touring relentlessly across the country. They have spent the entire summer playing shows and festivals nationwide, and their stop this night has brought the boys to Chi-Town. This show, however, will be a little different - Hann and Travis will be joined by Michael Kang (electric mandolin, fiddle) and Kyle Hollingsworth (keyboards), both of whom are also former members of String Cheese.

Seeker :: 10.04 :: Chicago
The Portage Theater stands proudly amidst the urban chaos of Northwestern Chicago. Its aging façade is a stark reminder of the theater's glory days as a film house. Having been around since the 1920s, the Portage is a relic of a past era and has withstood the test of time to become somewhat of an artifact, a cultural time capsule that gives one a feeling of nostalgia within its elegant walls. The theater was closed for a five-year period in 2001, during which its interior was renovated and restored to its original splendor before reopening in 2006. Since then, the Portage continues to show classic films and has become home to The Silent Film Society of Chicago, in addition to hosting various other types of events such as funky electronic dance parties.

Seeker is already playing when I make my way into the auditorium. Standing off to the side of the stage, I look out over the crowd that is groovin' to the music of local boys Matt Sullivan (guitar), John Tashjian (keyboards), and Joe McKinney (drums). The band has a uniquely progressive rock sound, incorporating elements of both psychedelia and jazz into their instrumental work. As they settle into an extended jam I begin to hear the cracking of glowsticks as the Chicago critters begin to emerge. I look out over the sea of bobbing heads and dilated pupils. The crowd has achieved liftoff.

During Seeker's set I also notice a man painting on a canvas on the other side of the stage. I learn later that the artist's name is Oliver Vernon, and that he will remain until the end of the show, working diligently on the live piece. Vernon is a Brooklyn native who was invited to do the painting by Entheon Village, one of the two organizations tonight's show is raising funds for.

Aaron Holstein - VibeSquaD :: 10.04 :: Chicago
Entheon Village's website describes the Entheon project as "an effort to promote sustainable cultural re-evolution that heals relationships between the people of the earth and our planet. The mission of Entheon is to demonstrate a future in which sustainability, ecological responsibility, environmental stewardship, and meditative and mystical consciousness are a welcomed and integrated part of society, and where art, spirituality and creativity is central to that vision." It sounds like a noble cause, and I am happy to contribute to something that focuses on bringing attention to the strained relationship between mankind and the earth.

The other organization benefiting from tonight's fundraiser is Our Future Now, of which Michael Kang is a founding member. Our Future Now is similar to Entheon in that it promotes ecological awareness through a combination of art, science and the community. The organization works with artists and musicians to bring focus to the need for renewable energy sources and emphasizes the importance of environmental responsibility. Good work, Mr. Kang.

Michael Travis - EOTO :: 10.04
VibeSquaD is the second opener, and consists of a one-man party in the form of DJ Aaron Holstein, who also performs in Travis' band Zilla. VibeSquaD does his thing as plaster falls from the ceiling and onto the stage, shaken loose by the bass-heavy beats booming off the walls of the megaphone-shaped auditorium. There is no balcony level – just one large cavernous room vibrating from the thunderous sound system. The crowd loves it, and I can almost feel the energy in the room rising as the music works people into a dance frenzy.

It's a madhouse inside when EOTO takes the stage. There are flashy toys, hula hoops, people dancing in the aisles and critters in costumes groovin' through the crowd. The vibes are good here, and almost everyone I see has a smile on their face – though some look bug-eyed and confused. The freaks are out in force, and tonight is their night.

I take a swig of whiskey before making my way towards the front. I struggle to get up close so I can get some good footage, but the thick mess of people prevents me from getting closer than about 30 feet from the stage. Hann and Travis are working their magic now, weaving together an intricate web of beats and melodies that lulls the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd into a trance. They build it up slowly, drawing on years of experience with one of the greatest jam bands ever, and expertly craft their improvised jam.

Their sound is not typical of your run-of-the-mill electronic-based bands. What I like about EOTO's music is that it is constantly shifting. It starts with a single idea, a seed that quickly grows and develops into myriad of flavors for the ear. Their sound is eclectic, avant-garde and continuously evolving while maintaining its dance party backdrop as a platform for improvisation. The music is multilayered, incorporating both subtle as well as more pronounced elements in its rich texture of sounds. The solid beats keep you grounded while the psychedelic noises, which range from the mystical to the weird and creepy, toy with your head and keep you on your toes – all while avoiding the sinister trap of repetition.

Kyle Hollingsworth - EOTO :: 10.04 :: Chicago
Eventually, Kang and Hollingsworth take the stage amidst deafening cheers from the howling audience to join Hann and Travis. For a moment I am caught up in the collective energy and find myself lost in the madness surrounding me. Eventually it gets a bit cramped for comfort and I make my way towards the back to dance alongside a pretty girl I'd been drinking with earlier. I hang back there for a while, watching the band to see what the two guests will add to the mix.

With Kang and Hollingsworth the party gets taken to the next level. They sound almost like an electronic dance party version of Medeski, Martin, Scofield and Wood, mixed with a bit of STS9 and fueled by the undeniably heavy influence of String Cheese. I am hoping for a multitude of SCI covers – which doesn't happen (understandably) – but we are treated to the instrumentals "Galactic" and "Valley of the Jig."

The talent of these four gentlemen is undeniable. They work amazingly well together; their musicianship is of the highest caliber and the interplay between them is tight. They are very much a unit and seem to possess the almost psychic link that exists between bandmates who have played together for a long time. Their collective mindset allows them to switch directions instantaneously, which is key when performing improvised music.

Of course there's a part of me that wishes Bill Nershi and Keith Moseley were up onstage as well, and like most String Cheese fans I maintain the hope of one day seeing all the boys playing together again, but I am more than happy with what I'm seeing and hearing this night. And I appreciate the fact that Hann, Travis, Kang, Hollingsworth, Nershi and Moseley are all pursuing their own musical interests, yet still find the time to sit in as guests with each other's projects. It's good to see that the former members of SCI are exploring other avenues of music and experimenting with different sounds; then perhaps someday – maybe, just maybe – they will bring it all back together and take us higher than ever before.

EOTO w/ Kang and Hollingsworth - 10/04/08

JamBase | The Future
Go See Live Music!


[Published on: 10/20/08]

Take full advantage of all JamBase has to offer by signing up for an account!

You'll receive

show alerts

when your favorite artists announce shows, be eligible to enter contests for

free tickets

, gain the ability to

share your personalized live music calendar

and much more. Join JamBase!



daddyfatsack starstarstarstarstar Mon 10/20/2008 07:11PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great review! I was not at the show but after this review mad me feel like I was there. Go CHEEEESSEEE woot woot.

Mr. Brojangles starstarstarstarstar Mon 10/20/2008 07:55PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Nice review. I'll be catching EOTO next week. Even though I don't like electronica style that much, the SCI team gets nice with it. I'm really digging all the SCI offshoots - Emmitt Nershi Band, Mosely with Keller, Panjea, and EOTO. Whatever those guys do is gonna be awesome.

RainbowSerpent starstarstarstarstar Mon 10/20/2008 08:25PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I really hope Kyle and Kang make an NYC appearance w/EOTO.

TheGreenKynd Mon 10/20/2008 08:54PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

i just caught EOTO this Friday in Philly and honestly it was one of the most fun shows i have ever been to. They were great.

JeLLyPhiSh823 Mon 10/20/2008 09:15PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


This was a dank ass show, good times in the parking lot all the way up to the theater i felt the cheese vibes flowin, cant wait to see more of the boys jammin together!!

nershi6string Mon 10/20/2008 09:50PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

if you watch that video at around the 4 min 50 sec- about 5 min 10 secs if you have it turned up loud enough you can hear some wookie mama talking about scoring some molly for only 14 bucks, brah!

Phattiebace Mon 10/20/2008 10:38PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

^ Lolz.... gota love da untz untz n womps womps

briank67 starstarstarstarstar Mon 10/20/2008 11:14PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


yeah i thought this show was really tight. good write-up too, i'm jealous you got to chill with them backstage. the show was full of highlights, from the opening beats, when the place EXPLODED, to that final long jam with that trippy 'keyboard' loop. someone at livedownloads said they threw in some missy elliot, and i know they threw in a few seconds of daft punk. i hope they keep touring like crazy, i can't get enough of these guys...

snausages Tue 10/21/2008 05:33AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


great review. i can't believe i missed the show. *sigh* :'(

AZ~*Droo* starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/21/2008 06:51AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


hann has been with cheese since 05

Smittea starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/21/2008 07:40AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Who is the retard that took the above video? I mean I hear the music, but what the hell are we looking at?

bwallen starstarstarstar Tue 10/21/2008 08:23AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


you can totally hear them talking about the molly they got. HAHAHHAA. AAARUGHRRUGURGH.(wookie call) EOTO is the shit. one of the funnest shows I've been too. missed them last time they cruised through San Fran, will not miss again.

Brant420 Tue 10/21/2008 08:45AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Hell of a way to spend a birthday...if only i could remember where i parked the car...

Brant420 Tue 10/21/2008 08:46AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

oh and check out seeker....destroyed it

spitz66 Tue 10/21/2008 09:01AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

"electronic dance party version of Medeski, Martin, Scofield and Wood, mixed with a bit of STS9 and fueled by the undeniably heavy influence of String Cheese"


jimmystewart420 Tue 10/21/2008 11:54AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

wow this got me really excited for wed. night in Athens, EOTO opening up for Conspirator at the theatre, gonna be sick nasty

briank67 Tue 10/21/2008 12:42PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


seeker was pretty meh in my opinion. they did get pretty intense but i was hoping for more electronic (and instrumental!) jams, they seemed to do more 'post-rock'-type stuff. vibesquad was ok as well, i could see how the kids would like it, and he's pretty active on stage, but i'm just getting tired of music that has what i think is an over-emphasis on bass. but i agree with comparing eoto to medeski and sts9. the guys, kyle especially, got SUPER funky at times, and they also made lots of cool loops and glitches. ....@smittea: that's a mean thing to say. that video was prolly only recorded with a phone or camera, plus it was (of course) really dark in the venue. did you get any footage of the show?

deadhead1421 starstarstarstar Tue 10/21/2008 12:43PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

my anticipation keeps growing for Nov. 6th in Lincoln...never seen EOTO, just started getting into them recently, each show seems to get better and better reviews

ao1 starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/21/2008 12:57PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Nice review.....these guys are awsomeeee........miss the cheese though


shags420 Tue 10/21/2008 04:15PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I was at this show, trust me when I say that everything that travis and hann do is original and never borrowed. This is my third show and will never miss another that comes near the chi.

When you go to a show like this, you become part of the show as you move about the people having the time of your life! I am one of the "freaks" that you see there dancing around w/ my green laser for all to see. I hope these human beat machines never stop playing live music for people to listen to.

oregonjibs Tue 10/21/2008 06:03PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This show was absolutely insane, and they people there made my first trip to chicago a good one. Not sure if anybody knows but you can get this show and any of the other EOTO fall tour shows on LIVEDOWNLOADS.com. I just picked it up about a week ago. This show was epic.


rollover42 starstarstarstarstar Tue 10/21/2008 08:24PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

No Hann has been with cheese since 04. "The vibes are good here, and almost everyone I see has a smile on their face – though some look bug-eyed and confused." = the most true statement ever!!

adubvu Wed 10/22/2008 05:11AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I wasn't impressed with the show in philly.

grumpin Wed 10/22/2008 10:03AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Geez, I wish the EOTO show I saw in NYC last Thursday was like this one. They played Sullivan Theater (formerly Lions Den) and the crowd was incredibly weak. There were only about 25-45 people there. The music was good but the crowd deflated everything. I saw them for the first time at Rothbury and loved it. Was expecting a great crowd in NYC. Not to be though. Terribly weak.

Anitya Wed 10/22/2008 10:17AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Hey deadhead1421, word has it that the show has been moved to The Slowdown in Omaha. Although I not for sure on that yet.

BUJ starstarstarstarstar Wed 10/22/2008 12:08PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I did Syracuse > Burlington > Albany > NYC with EOTO... I'm still recovering after a week. I was HIGHLY impressed. Their setup is very elaborate... being a network on stage of computers; a touch screen MAC for Jason, 2 Powerbooks for Michael, and both connected to Abelton and mixers. Just awesome.

jibber02 starstarstarstarstar Thu 10/23/2008 11:33AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


This show was awesome. I made it out from Montana, and it was worth every penny. Shags420, thank you so much for your green lasers! Those are quality lasers for sure. What's one of those things run? You added an element to the show that was severely lacking. Great glowstick wars, too. Nothing like 07 SCI summer, but pretty hefty nonetheless. Excellent theater, too. The bass is lacking on the download, if you were there, you know what I mean. But thanks to all who made my trip great! The family was in force, and putting the vibe out for sure.

bluefox starstar Thu 10/23/2008 11:44AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Listened to some of the video (which is all it is good for I guess as you can't see anything!)

No offense meant to those who dig it but this is just not my thing. I saw a lot of cheese 98-03 but just drifted away big time. At this point I could really care less if they ever got back together.

jibber02 starstarstarstarstar Thu 10/23/2008 03:05PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I take it back. If you listen to the download on a really nice system, and turn the bass way, way up, you can almost catch the feel. And there are a few better clips on youtube than this one.

r0llingst0ned starstarstarstarstar Thu 10/23/2008 07:28PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Yeah, sorry guys, I record with a digital camera so I'm restricted to whatever lighting is available. But it captures audio really well, which is why I'm fine with it. In any case I try to include video clips with all of my reviews, and I was pretty far back for this one cause of all the people.

briank67 Thu 10/23/2008 09:00PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


hey r0llingst0ned, thanks for the effort!

and i agree with jibber02...the venue was pretty tight, i'd definitely see another show there if any good bands come through. but i was expecting more visual artwork at the show, given that it was thrown in part by local chicago burners...but the glowsticks and the kids with laser pens definitely helped. and yes i've given the official download (is that what you're talking about?) a quick listen, it neeeeeeds more bass. it'll be a recording i'll listen to and think "you just had to be there"

oregonjibs Sat 10/25/2008 11:45AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Check out LIVEDOWNLOADS.com every show on the fall tour is available for download and I heard they were going to offer something for free. Not sure if its true but check it out. The New york shows are awesome

malkin99 Sun 10/26/2008 01:31AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

gimme dat eoto can't wait for the cheese reunion at red rocks gonna be great in 09

StringCheeseRadio starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/5/2008 06:18PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Awesome review. EOTO is kick ass! Cheese, EOTO, Keller & More streaming 24/7 for free >> http://www.StringCheeseRadio.com << Check it out!!

kellersci Tue 12/23/2008 10:21AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

yeah, did anyone see the guy jump on stage tweekin it at the painting? I was right up against the stage and Kang just looked at him and said "Wtf are you doing, get off the f*ckin stage" haha. I dont think Kang was too happy with the atmosphere there. I mean cheese was fun, but EOTO at Portage, scary and a bit dangerous, too many people who couldnt handle their drugs and absolutly no security. But i gotta admit, it was a crazy good show

Primus4209 starstarstarstar Sat 1/24/2009 02:54AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Fucking dope ass show!!!! amazing energy you had to be there! Yea there were some tweekers but it didint ruin my time! What runined my time for a lil while was when these gangsters on the side of the building were jumping out windows to smoke weed lol shit was crazy!!! My friend came back and told me that they got hauled off by the police! Thank the lord talk about tweekers/trouble! stay away from allie ways lol

Mittens Thu 3/19/2009 03:00PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I love EOTO