Last weekend I got a chance to catch one of the better shows I've seen in the ten years I've lived in Northern California. Arcata's very own Nucleus performed at Humboldt Brews, formerly the Humboldt Brewery, to a packed house for the CD release party of their third album The Vibe, which was recorded in Ithaca, New York last winter.

The band has been touring as a trio for the past season and moving back and forth from Arcata, California to Ithaca, New York more than once. Now they say that they're staying put here in Arcata.

The first half of the show was a surprising change of pace, as the group dove into an entire improv set in the spirit of the new release. They changed landscapes with peaks and waves in a beautiful bouquet of musical intuition. The improv set seemed effortless, full of strong convictions. At times delicate melodies set the pace; then at others there were powerful rock sounds crashing down like rolling thunder. The crowd ate it all up and screamed for more.

After a brief intermission featuring DJs from Humboldt County's Deep Groove Society laying down house and drum 'n' bass, the second set began. The band rose up with some solid rock tunes. They opened the set with a great straight-ahead rock track called "Pretend." The tune featured some crafty songwriting skills from guitarist Piet Dalmolen. This led to several other rockers, including a cover of Beck's "Tropicalia" from the Mutations album, and a cover of "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World" that got everyone stirred up in a political frenzy.

As the lights went up and the show drew to a close I found myself talking with a few fans and friends outside who seemed to all be glowing from the excitement of a really great rock show, something that you usually don't get to see without paying 30 bucks.

This band has serious talent and is ready to blossom. The new record should be the springboard for them but the live show will completely floor you if you're not careful.

Gil Roy
JamBase | California
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[Published on: 7/26/04]

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