Rubblebucket | San Francisco | Review

By: Eric Podolsky

Rubblebucket :: 04.05.12 :: Brick and Mortar :: San Francisco, CA

Rubblebucket’s current tour continues in Colorado through this weekend before moving onto to Kansas, Georgia and more. Check out the full show schedule here!

Rubblebucket by John Margaretten
Having heard the band's name in conversation every so often, I possessed little but a casual curiosity leading up to Rubblebucket's performance at Brick & Mortar Music Hall, a great new club in San Francisco's Mission District. I knew nothing of their music, but I had heard that the band contains ex-members of the much-loved reggae band John Brown's Body, so I had high hopes for the evening. Needless to say, Rubblebucket's powerful performance totally took me off guard. In fact, their own genre-bending brand of indie-pop-Afro-funk (to risk pigeon-holing) blew the room away.

Right out of the gates, it was clear that this was no ordinary indie-dance band from Brooklyn (though they are indeed from Brooklyn). For one, the band's sound is defined by the propulsive, monstrously commanding brass section of Adam Dotson on trombone and Alex Toth on trumpet (also the bandleader). Their classic R&B horn lines, when combined with the band's funky, polyrhythmic instrumentation and filtered through an indie-art-rock sensibility create a sort of Frankenstein hybrid that is equal parts hippie and hipster. The star of the show, however is lead singer Annakalmia Traver, whose impressive vocals soar above the lush instrumentation, delivering catchy, quirky songs in a voice that's passionate and soulful one song, cool and detached the next. And as an added bonus, she plays a powerful baritone sax – unheard of!

Throughout their psychedelic, tribal set (think hipsters go to Africa and drop acid), I found myself marveling at how these musicians have managed to blend the two musical worlds of jam band and indie-pop so seamlessly. With reverb-a-plenty soaking the vocals and guitar, and vocal harmonies in that trademark atonal-choir vein a la Dirty Projectors, all this melted down with a smokin' hot, infectiously funky vibe into a party of a set that got progressively weirder and more frenetic as it progressed.

Rubblebucket by John Margaretten
As the set progressed, the loops and reverb were turned up, and the Afro-funk increased in equal measure as well. A super-catchy new song called "Pain for Love" brought the grooves hard, and was the moment that got me hooked in for the rest of the night. From there, things got crazier and weirder with an out-of-left-field old school cover/mash-up of Blondie's "Heart of Glass" and "Rapture" sung over the chugging groove to Melle Mel's "White Lines (Don't Do It)" in a truly awesome WTF moment. Traver's detached, cold-as-ice vocals were certainly Deborah Harry-worthy, after which the band burst things open into the first true jam of the night, where guitarist Ian Hersey and keyboardist Darby Wolf stepped out from their restrained playing to show their chops, and percussionist Craig Myers was really noticed for the first time, banging out African polyrhythms essential to the music.

The rest of the show soon swelled into a truly tribal dance party, complete with a dancing naked dude (kicked out by security), giant one-armed robot puppets, and a couple of unamplified horn section marches through the crowd. The Afrobeat influences got thicker with every song – rhythm guitar, wood blocks, and powerful staccato blasts of horns pushed the poppy songwriting and reverbed-out vocals to grand heights I never thought possible for such music. The band peaked the night out with a Budos Band-esque, big foot stomp of a tune – all frenzied sound and energy, otherworldly in its lack of classification, but unmistakably infectious.

It's easy to see Rubblebucket blowing minds at festivals this summer – such weird, wild music is more than capable of filling a big stage. Most importantly, though, they get people off, in a big way.

Rubblebucket Tour Dates :: Rubblebucket News

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[Published on: 4/12/12]

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