Sullivan Hall Gets Weirdly Normal
CEG Presents and The Brain Trust joined forces last week to bring an especially stacked lineup to Sullivan Hall. It was the New York City debut of Normal Instruments, perhaps the best of a recent crop of collaborative efforts arising from a burgeoning scene rife with cross-pollination. Unlike the other stops on their nice little Northeast jaunt, the NYC date featured every individual member of the super group performing with their main acts to boot. With an array of whimsical merchandise and fans gallivanting about in psychedelic spirit hoods, the night had quite the festive atmosphere.
Two thirds of Higher Organix kicked things off despite losing their guitarist to a wrist injury. Their drum and bass jam evolved organically through mellow dub towards dubstep womps and wobbles. The impeccably named Joey Z of The Indobox joined in for the latter half of their hour-long set and added sweltering guitar lines to the deceptively complex bass lines of rising star Brian Ross and the regular and electronic drums of Jules Jenssen, arguably the night’s MVP, pulling triple duty with all but one of the bands.
Despite a questionable moniker, Cosmic Dust Bunnies certainly have potential to stick around. They hewed closer to pop sensibilities than many of the other acts, though never straying far from the basic template of funky dub tinged with hints of electronic dance music. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for this youngish ensemble.
With their catchy heartfelt lyrics, soaring peaks and captivating stage presence, its easy to see why The Indobox fan base overlaps with that of the similar cult-fave Brothers Past. With more experience than perhaps any other act on the bill, The Indobox nearly stole the show with their blistering solos and fresh tunes that somehow seemed as if you’d known them all your life.
Normal Instruments somehow lived up to the considerable hype with a stellar set running the gamut across all the various styles that influence the live improvisational music scene. Dub, funk, jazz and more blended seamlessly in the capable hands of this talented quartet. Hopefully, the group will turn up on the festival circuit this summer.
Unlike the other members of Normal Instruments, Jeff Bujak normally performs solo, marching to the beat of his own drum machine. One could hardly blame the majority of the crowd for dispersing into the night after the headliner, but the few that remained were treated to an eccentric Bujak set paired with captivating glow hooping. Backed by a wall of blinking lights, Buj tinkered at his various synthesizers, twiddling knobs and tapping keys to create a patchwork quilt of body-moving beats, with Dr. Dre and Talking Heads samples poking out at opportune moments.