By Steven Jackson
Did you see the show at C-Haus on Wednesday night? Probably not, because if you had, you wouldn’t be reading this article right now. Because you’re face, eyes and all, would have been melted off by the aforementioned show. Walking Oceans, a Kansas City four-piece instrumental group, came to C-Haus as part of their national tour and played a show ranks among the best sneak-attack awesome weekday concerts at Beloit.
I strolled into the C-Haus at about 10:30, after an evening spent procrastinating and pretending mid-terms aren’t a thing we do here at Beloit. Downstairs, campus band Mr. Alec Baldwin was just getting started. The music was thick, ethereal, and loud as hell. The band consists of Spencer Bible on guitar, Jack Katze on drums, and Alen Perlin running samples. I stood up front, letting each song wash over me–and feeling thoroughly grateful for my earplugs. The band creates low, pulsing dirges that build and morph, one flowing into the next. Katze on drums is particularly fun to watch, playing a minimal trap-set with only a kick, floor tom, ride cymbal, and snare.
Next up was Walking Oceans, the main attraction of the night. I was already excited for this show. After reading their interview with Jack Katze in last week’s Round Table, I checked out the group online and had been steadily dosing myself with their music all week.
The band is hard to classify, but “instrumental experimental rock” sums it up pretty well. Their sound is similar in some ways to Explosions in the Sky, but much less sleepy–I prefer Walking Oceans. Their songs are progressive, with intricate arrangements and rousing dynamics that kept me bobbing my head in this really cool way that I consider my signature move (I’ll show you how to do it sometime).
A unique feature of Walking Oceans–apart from their sound–is their use of stage lights. All four members controlled lights with foot switches. When one of the guitarists or the bass player took a solo or led into a breakdown, they stepped forward on a plexiglass box at the edge of the stage, which then exploded into blue light and illuminated them from below. The drummer operated a giant light panel behind the band. (One stomp=on/off; stomp and hold=flashing madness.) His foot switch was right next to the high-hat pedal; it was amazing to watch him incorporate the lights into his already complex, tumbling beats.
Walking Oceans’ dynamic sound, combined with the theatrical stage lights and a whole lot of energy, made for a performance that was downright manipulative. With nary a PBR tallboy to loosen me up, I was in their grasp the whole show, swaying and bouncing like a drunk Stevie Wonder.
My only complaint is that the band didn’t play longer. After four or five songs, they packed it in for the night. I thought it was a bit of a tease, but I guess it was for the audience’s own good: we had studying to do.
Walking Oceans will continue their tour through March. Now they head south, with gigs almost every night. Later this month they’ll play SXSW in Austin, Texas. For more information, check out their webpage at walkingoceans.com or look them up on facebook.