Canada launched a massive attack on the US this weekend, and it came in the form of a band, The New Deal. Originating in Toronto, the Canadian trio took strong hold of western New York this past Friday with the first of a 21 show tour, starting in Rochester at The Club at Water Street. Made up of Jaime Shields on keyboards, Darren Shearer on drums and beat box, and Dan Kurtz on bass guitar, The New Deal combine elements of techno, house, and break-beats along with intense improvisation to come up with today’s only jam band to call themselves “live progressive breakbeat house.”

The New Deal certainly have songs, and they become distinct to the long-time listener, who recognizes various different beats but probably doesn't know what they are called. They morph different jams together, thus having little to no definition of a beginning or an end. They don’t just feed off of the crowds energy, but rather they suck the energy from it, and then throw it back out there in a different form. Many find it difficult to stand by and be a spectator at a New Deal show, and even the most timid people find themselves getting down to the energetic beats.

The New Deal’s second appearance in Rochester was a huge success, and everyone left with a huge smile across his or her face, itching for more. The Canadian trio continued their trek this weekend on Saturday night to Ithaca, NY to play at an intimate venue called Castaways. Many familiar faces were in attendance that had been to the previous night’s show, proving my theory that you are left itching for more. Typically a two-set show, The New Deal makes each of their 80-minute sets fly by with intense speed, leaving you amazed and in awe. You are forced to dance harder and harder even as you get more tired, as the beats continue to intensify, eventually reaching a powerful climax. With the help of Matt Iarrobino, aka “Bino” on the lights, The New Deal create an extra sensory environment focusing on music, but emphasized by complementary psychedelic eye candy. Bino works hard for each show, hauling around their own lighting rig from venue to venue, just to please the crowd and create that extra dimension which you tend to float into at a New Deal show. With a white backdrop behind the trio, Bino is able to project fast paced color formations, keeping tempo with Darren’s intense drumming.

In addition to Darren’s intense break beats, Jamie keeps it interesting and controls the high-end of the band’s sound, leading the jams to intense heights. The Canadians on-stage setup is very close, and it affords them opportunities to interact with each other and give cues as to where they want to go, and they do it well. They are able to play an 80-minute set, only stopping two or three times, which makes each jam over twenty minutes long on average. This makes for intense dancing out there in the crowd, and the level is kept at it highest point all night.

The glue that sticks this violent machine together is Dan Kurtz on the bass guitar. He creates the flow between Darren and Jaime, holding the jams together as Jaime goes off into the fourth dimension with his space-age keystrokes. Be prepared to let Jamie take you back to the classic rock hits with some teases from some of your favorite bands like Journey. It forces any music lover to wrack their brains trying to figure out what in the world it was that they just played, slipping it deep within jams to the point where it sometimes goes un-noticed to the oblivious listener.

No matter where the New Deal is playing, I suggest you get out of your house and check these guys out as soon as you can. You will never get better sleep after seeing these guys because you will be exhausted from dancing all night. They are on the road now, and they continue their massive attack on the States until the end of April, ending up in none other than the “Big Easy” for Jazz-fest. Check them out at The New Deal for more details and information.

Ian Stone
jamBASE | Upstate NY

[Published on: 2/20/02]

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