Zoogma‘s recent performance at the Highline Ballroom in New York City reminded me why I enjoy seeing them live. It’s not everyday that I find a band I like. In fact its pretty uncommon. Fortunately for Zoogma they have found their way onto my like column. In the world of jamtronica, I find them comparable only to Conpsirator in terms of intensity, for comparisons sake. But unlike Conspirator‘s most recent foray into “live dubstep,” Zoogma still possesses a smooth, jazzy, almost sensual undertone while still delivering a high energy performance.
The electronica movement, started by the likes of the Disco Biscuits and STS9 (among others), is already several years into the second and third generation of bands. Zoogma is one of those bands and, to put it simply, they’re one of the best. With a noticeably younger crowd and a relentless tour schedule it is easy to predict they will continue to garner fans.
The band had worried me for a few months after working through a lineup adjustment, but time heals all. Their show at the Highline was a reminder of that. Each composition they performed that night was meticulously executed with no obvious or glaring mistakes to be heard. Starting the night off with “Rock It” (video below) their set only got better from there. It might seem strange, but if you count sampling, Zoogma may in fact have more vocals then many jambands who actually sing.
Zoogma seems to have perfected their ability to throw down a non-stop dance party without it being overwhelming or abrasive. The unique blend of electronically generated sounds, vocal samples and live instrumentation makes them easily accessible to fans of a diverse range of genres, something that most jam/electronica bands cannot tout. Even hidden behind what seems like piles of synthesizers and computers the band still exudes the stage presence of a much more experienced band. The only member of the band sans gadgets and gizmos is drummer Matt Harris, who– unlike many of his drumming counterparts– is the most visible member of the band on stage. I could spend an hour trying to find the right words to describe his skills and style but the video below is way more poetic then I could ever be. So, to put it simply, he’s good. As are the rest of the members of the band but my inability to discern the difference between the sounds coming from each one’s synthesizers or computers makes an individual assessment of them pure conjecture.
So “What the fuck IS Zoogma?” It is perhaps an unanswerable question but I have done my best to capture the essence of the band. It is clear that we will only hear more and more about the band in coming years and perhaps eventually we will be able to answer this age old question with a definitive answer.