By: Brennan Lagasse
EOTO :: 03.04.10 :: Crystal Bay Club Casino :: Lake Tahoe, NV
Throughout the ski season, the Crystal Bay Club Casino (CBC) on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe offers a "Rail Jam" party where the casino shows ski and snowboard movies, gives away free swag and even hosts a free show. In early March, the completely improvisational duo EOTO, featuring String Cheese drummers Michael Travis and Jason Hann, threw one hell of a party at the CBC. With snow falling hard and talk of the upcoming "Incidents" floating through the crowd, there was a highly-charged vibe as EOTO took the stage.
EOTO's success has been defined by relentless touring. Not many bands would (or could) play 32 of 33 days in a row. From February 24 to March 28 EOTO is on the road, from Flagstaff, Arizona to Roanoke, Virginia, and they're taking one day off. Amazing. Never playing the same show twice helps keep it interesting and the band has a solid crew to help them make it all work. Beyond the normal merchandise booth, which was housed by longtime Cheese-Head B.J. at this particular show, there were also Conscious Alliance posters for sale and for fans who donated non-perishable food items. These posters will be available during this entire current EOTO tour, and their purchase helps donate food to needy families.
From the start EOTO displayed the smooth mix of live dubstep, electronic, house, funk and fully improvisational jamming that this pair is known for. Hann played from behind a fairly stripped down drum kit with some laptop hookups that seemed to focus on a center mounted crash cymbal, while Travis was surrounded by a plethora of music making devices. Of course, there were his patented percussion instruments, but there's also a guitar, bass, laptops and several keyboards.
Did I mention vocals? Beyond the special telepathic relationship these two possess, simply glancing at each other when one feels they want to tweak or stop or start a new segue in the jam they're playing, these guys also loop in vocal sounds that completely mesh with the beats. The textures, the builds and spacing, everything was tight and on-point at this show, especially for a group that pre-records nothing.
It's rather amazing to have watched these guys transform from a small String Cheese side project some years ago into a band that totally brought the Burning Man vibe to Tahoe on a random Thursday in March. Just as their improvisational technique has strengthened, their bond as a duo has as well, and it's especially evident in the way the layers of their music morph and run off into tangents while seemingly keeping a continuous groove throughout. The crowd loved it, and though many fans can't wait for SCI's shows this summer, there seems little doubt that EOTO is helping pass the time. The same could be said for Travis and Hann.
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