Cash Pony with 3 Ring Simian | S.F. | Review

Words & Images by: Annelise Poda

Cash Pony and 3 Ring Simian:: 06.22.12 :: Café du Nord :: San Francisco, CA

3 Ring Simian by Annelise Poda
Historic San Francisco venue Cafe du Nord hosted a Friday night show of mind melting psychedelic funk and progressive math rock from bands Cash Pony and 3 Ring Simian. These colorful bands jolted the crowd into a kinetic, hypnotic state that quickly had everyone ready to shake out their stresses of the week on the dance floor. Dazed fans were left to pick up the pieces of their exploded minds in the aftermath of the million note cluster bombs that blasted from shaking amps into the underground speakeasy.

Opening band 3 Ring Simian started the off night on a great note with a trippy set of bass dominated jams. Illuminated by a dim red light, Kevin Ames slapped out Primus-esque grimy bass lines that locked perfectly into the jazzy beats from percussionist Vince Shore. These two musicians commanded a solid yet dynamic rhythm section that drove the band’s compositions purposefully forward. As a counterpart to these deeper and darker rhythmic elements, elaborate piano scales straight from the fingertips of Lauren Urroz darted in and out of songs to add a more melodic kind of chaos to the mix. Vocals were not necessary for these pieces to convey emotion, and the lack of lyrics made these psychedelic grooves all the easier to get lost in. 3 Ring Simian took the early audience on a trip with their warping bass lines and tempo changes, and their uncommon instrumentation made this a very exciting set to experience.

Cash Pony by Annelise Poda
After a short break, Cash Pony took the stage, shifted straight into fifth gear, and zoomed off on a sonic adventure of fine-tuned, progressive math rock. With each band member sporting a unique beard style, they collectively seemed to sink into a meditative state that enabled them to perfectly link up the clouds of notes that darted around the stage. It seemed that they were of one hive mind as they rapidly yet precisely wove together cyclic tornadoes of scales and breaks. The bass, guitar, drums, and saxophone notes would all move as one through complicated musical passageways at breakneck speed, suddenly split apart from each other for bouts of free jazz inspired musical anarchy, and then suddenly reconnect again as if nothing had interrupted their meticulous precision.

As set progressed, vocalist and guitar player Charles Lloyd traded his axe for an electric sitar, and the band’s songs gained an East Indian flavoring. This elaborate instrument was not just for show as Lloyd adjusted the frets and frenziedly plucked out notes with the skill of a seasoned sitar player. It was a perfect addition to the madness unfolding on the stage, and the twangy sitar chords served as a guiding force that took the lead in the mix. Jeremy Greene switched from playing his tenor saxophone to a baritone, and the soulful cranking tones went above and beyond to facilitate some deep, funky grooves. Drummer Ian Saxton continuously explored every inch of his drum kit, hitting ten things at once while holding everything together with a face of Zen-like composure.

Cash Pony Tarot Card
My favorite songs of the night were “Embracing Equation,” which was played earlier in the night and had a spazzy Hawaiian feel to it, and “I Am You,” one of the tunes where Lloyd played the sitar while singing full, longing lyrics. This song made me realize that the vocals in Cash Pony are different than in most other bands. They add to the song as a whole, and they don’t stand out as more important than the instrumental parts. It seems as if they were added as an afterthought in most of the songs, albeit a very nice and fitting one. During the last song of the night, Stephen Wright toggled a sweeping space filter effect on his bass that gave the music a more serene feel, serving as an audio comedown from the rest of the fast paced, intense prog rock jams of the night. It was a great way to end the show, and the crowd full of friends and fans cheered as the band left the stage.

This show was also a vinyl release show for Cash Pony, and they were offering a bundle of their record Carpal Tunnel Vision Quest combined with a special limited edition tarot card deck with specific illustrations based on the album itself as well as the musicians in the band (collect all five beards!). In this age of digital downloads, it’s great to see bands that go out of their way to incorporate visual art to go along with their music. I thought this tarot card idea was a very neat way to expand upon the record, and it’s a collectible that fans can also use interactively. Check out one of Cash Pony’s future shows to see more of this auxiliary artwork and of course to also hear some impressively crazy tunes that are sure to make for an entertaining night.

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[Published on: 7/13/12]

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