Date: Saturday, Nov. 20th, 2010
Line up: Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad & Super Hi-Fi
Location: The Mercury Lounge. New York City, NY.
Look, if you want to fully appreciate the depth of a Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad concert, forget everything and focus on the music. Just let the tunes take over because, honestly, these are awesome tunes played by a band that knows how to play off each other. They drop into the pocket, build a sweet hook, and then unleash the song into a psychedelic dub haze of wah-wah guitars and funky keyboard riffs out in uncharted territory of the dub-universe, while the rhythm section, vital and prescient, sends pulses of bass up your spine.
Saturday night’s set at New York City’s Mercury Lounge started with a brief instrumental entitled Relative Minor before ripping into nearly 2 hours of mostly original material (the band did one cover throughout the set, a song by a band called The Simpkin Project. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the name of the song). Giant Panda’s original material showcases the diverse range of talent within the band, from the syrupy three-part harmonies of On The Moon to the narrative lyricism of Burkina Faso and the upbeat, dance-floor mash-up riddims of tracks like Seasons Change and .45. In a live format, the band knows how make these songs shine brighter than Times Square. Giant Panda sounds more than at home live onstage and the band knows it, filling the live set with musical segues and extended, improvised jams throughout the night. This spontaneous approach to a live performance comes as no surprise considering the band has played 500 shows in the past three years alone.
It’s really important to keep the energy new and unique, says drummer Chris O’Brian. It’s good to give yourself and the audience something different…something to look forward to, unexpected and exciting.
The group’s instrumental excursions were certainly the highlight of the show. The band, as instrumentalists, knows how to cooperate, how to complement, and how to clash with one another. As guitarist Dylan Savage would lead the band through instrumental passages with sinuous electric guitar leads, keyboardist Aaron Lipp, using a combination of Hammond Organ, Fender Rhodes Piano, and Clavinet laid down funky keyboard riffage and mesmerizing textures, picking out hypnotic chord voicings and adding several layers of new frequency to the band’s musical atmosphere. Underneath the washed out psychedelia, bassist James Searl and the previously mentioned O’Brian tinkered and toyed with the low-end rhythms, sometimes stomping, other times sauntering, all amidst the swirling dub abyss created of the band’s sound engineer, Joel Scanlon.
As a live outfit, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad supersedes their original studio recordings by elaborating upon the infinite possibilities every song may hold. To facilitate the distribution and archival of their live music, Giant Panda recently launched Livepanda.com, a site dedicated solely to providing fans with easy access to live Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad music.
Our music career is primarily playing shows, says O’Brian. We want the ability to spread that further than just that concert in that club on that night.
Giant Panda’s Set List:
Missing You More
On The Moon
In These Times
Seasons Change (Afro)
Love You More
Nothing Comes Easy
Next Best Explosion
Next Best Explosion
(The Simpkin Project) Cover