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Caverns @ The Ottobar May 29

DC’s Caverns will play at the Ottobar this Thursday, the 29th, along with Lush Farm, Driving in Silence, and Person Parcel.

I’m not that familiar with the other bands playing, but from what I know my gut reaction is to bemoan the fact that shows aren’t prorated just for the bands you want to see. However, no amount of arguing with the doorman “I’m just here for one set” has ever yielded me the results I wanted.

But trust me this dramatic instrumental metal trio is worth price of admission. Man, they even have a tech on stage delivering a killer light show. Kevin goes apeshit on the guitar, a man wailing with daemonic fury. When Kevin throttles back, Pat fills in on the keyboard with melancholic arpeggios, and classical flourishes. And Caverns is fucking LOUD.

Seriously don’t let the fact that a Gary B side project is also on the bill scare you away. Well, actually…

Review – Imperial China, Caverns @ Lo-Fi Social Club

DC sent some of its premier music-makers to Baltimore this past Saturday. Imperial China specialize in a decaying, spaced and fuzzed out, tribal brand of post-punk. Some apt comparisons have been thrown about to Battles. I would challenge that they are a sight more intense. They played a ferocious set that was highly percussive. At times having 2 members on drums, their lines created a sense of anticipation and foreboding. Both front-men doubled duty on guitar and bass, switching frequently. This fed into the chaotic feel of the music and was topped by the twitchy guitar and bass work, post-punk flavored and coming down like sheets of rain. The entire set was utterly haunting and senses-smashing. They have some great musical ideas and it will be exciting to see where they take things.

And now, onto Caverns.

What can I say. These guys are 2 for 2 in my book. They absolutely destroyed. Their songwriting possesses perfect control of pacing and packs a lot of guitar, drum and keyboard depth into digestible and cohesive tracks. Guitarist Kevin’s energy was through the roof, frequently thundering down off the stage to romp around the floor amidst the audience mid-song, ax flailing and wailing. He even chased off a pre-set heckler within the first minute of the first song. But when appropriate he pulled back in a stunning showcase of his ability to not only shred but inject serenity and nuance into his playing. “The family that slays together stays together” is probably the best example of this.

Patrick’s keyboard work was lush and immersive, but almost overpowering. In fact, the whole sound was pretty damned deafening (as has been commented on before by Jeff the Taper). But the songs even held up in the din of induced tinnitis. I would have liked more clarity from the guitar in the mix, but nothing could be done on Caverns’ end of this. It was hard to pick out the drums most of the time, but when they came through they seemed on point. The thing I really appreciated this go-around that I overlooked last time with Say Hi was the electronics by Ira. Asking to have all the lights cut out, I realized they lug around their own lighting. And it does a spectacular job of accenting the music and setting the mood, simply with the colors amber and white.

Spectacular set, personal highlight being “This are Syntax”. It was also nice to hear the title track off their newest album, “Silk Scorpion.” Talking to Kevin after the set, he said that Caverns will be in the studio and pre-production for the album for the next month or so, emerging to play again with Imperial China at Velvet Lounge at the beginning of May.

Thanks to both groups for coming up. Good luck to Caverns in the studio. We can’t wait to hear some new material.

Interview: Caverns (w/ Kevin Hilliard)

Guitarist Kevin Hilliard, one-third of DC’s hard-rocking instrumentalists Caverns took some time out to chat about their music and other miscellaneous topics like the role of vocals in metal.

Below are a smattering of streamed tracks for you to enjoy while reading the interview after the jump. Don’t forget to catch them when they lay down the gauntlet with fellow DC-kids Imperial China, next to Baltimore’s own Moscow Telephone and UK crunchy-pop-punk from Buck Brothers on March 21st at Lo-Fi.

Read the rest…

Music from DC’s Caverns and an old favorite, Snapcase

The instrumental rockers in DC’s Caverns have been nice enough to provide us with MP3′s to stream.

And to boot, Jeff the Taper has recordings of a live set at RnR Hotel in DC. Check out the track streams after the jump, or check out Jeff’s live recording here at Beatbots A/V Club.

Also, just for kicks, I included some old tracks from a defunct hardcore band called Snapcase (Wiki) whose music I enjoyed immensely. The three tracks are off their album Designs for Automotion (2000). I recommend picking up that and their earlier album Progression Through Unlearning (1997).

Stay tuned for our exclusive interview with Caverns coming up in the next week; stream this music to rock out while you are waiting. Enjoy the weekend, and join some of the AS staff at the sure-to-be-excellent Justice show on Sunday (despite its association with Myspace).

Show Review: Say Hi/Caverns @ the Black Cat, DC

There isn’t much more to be said about Say Hi. Eric Elbogen is an excellent songsmith. You will never find anything too technically complex or musically challenging to listen to. What you will find, is carefully crafted and enjoyable indie-pop.

The value of his live show, other than the promise of another live member or two to fill out the band, is that he adds another dimension to the music and provides a heightened sense of immediacy to every song. So much so that each song feels like a musical kamikaze-run that starts with often timid beginnings, crescendoing over the course of the song into near-explosive whirls of Eric’s guitar hook of choice, loaded with tension. Highlights of the night included a soaring performance of “Snowcones and Puppies,” “Toil and Trouble,” and the endearing, set-closing rally-cry for the shy kid in all of us “Let’s Talk About Spaceships.”

But the best part of the night for me was the discovery of DC’s Caverns. Now I must preface this with some disclosure: I have an affinity for progressive metal, post-hardcore, hardcore, metalcore, all those sub-genres with oft-screaming vocalists and blistering instrumental work. Damn if I don’t love a good breakdown. Too bad that more often than not, talented and creative musicians are undercut by a vocalist with a cookie-monster scream/growl that just ruins everything.

Caverns seemed to read my mind on that point, forgoing vocals and just steaming straight ahead with instrumental breakdown tracks. Drummer, shred-and-chug math-guitarist, electronics guy and pianist. Guitar work trudges all around the hard rock gamut, at times having the chug of metalcore, then switching over to prog/math mode with runs that melt your face. Their balance places the piano to the fore giving their sound a more dramatic, operatic feel.

Most direct influences seem to be Converge (a few tracks probably could have fit right on a Converge album) and Dillinger Escape Plan, or basically any math-core band. I’m pretty sure I heard a re-tuned Deftones riff in there somewhere and I’d like to think King Diamond and Dream Theater informed their sound a bit too.

More to come on them in the future…they play Lo-Fi on March 21 with Imperial China. Not to be missed.

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