Me and my fiance just moved to Bloomington, and there could be no better way to kick it off than an Aloha show. We have similar musical tastes, but it always boils down to the fact that Aloha is our shared favorite band. So when we heard that Aloha was going to be playing the Art Hospital, we were excited.
The Art Hospital is a renovated building (maybe it was an old tiny hospital?) with one main gallery space that the show was held in. Only there was one problem -- the ceilings were huge and it was linoleum floors. Each snare hit rang out for a good minute or so in all the echo. Which didn't fare so good for Alexander the Great.
Alexander the Great is a local band, and while surprisingly talented for what I might have expected out of a band whose drummer looked 16, they had trouble playing with the space they were in. The guitar was indistinguishable half the time what with the echo, and the drums were played way too loud even though there was only a mic on the kick drum. Other than that, they had a pretty general setup -- bass, guitar, keys, drums. While the genre they played in (sort of generic indie synth rock) didn't tickle me too much, I enjoyed watching them play. They did some really interesting things for fills and bridges. Overall I'd compare them to the Get Up Kids or Motion City Soundtrack, you know, that whole deal. Maybe you'd dig 'em.
Next up was New York's Rahim. I'd had the luck of getting both their EP and LP from the 'Org to review. They play a minimalist sort of angular art rock that gives props to Gang of Four. I've always really liked their albums, but couldn't always pay attention -- they lock into stiff grooves and don't always fill in the blanks. They played amazingly, though. Watching the drummer made me aware of the difficult rhythms he uses. Rahim's a three-piece and while the main setup is guitar, bass and drums, they also have a synth and some auxiliary percussion that the guitarist and bass player switch off on. They started out strong and really let the space work for them -– the echo only accentuated the pounding drums and made them huge while it made the minimalist guitar and bass seem even more sparse. Again, the only complaint I have with this band is that I get lost in the grooves. I kind of want all of their songs to be about a minute shorter. Besides that though, Rahim really wowed me and made me want to take a look back at that EP and LP.
As Aloha took the stage, the room became crowded. It was apparent who everyone came to see. And for good reason. Just like when I saw them at the Abbey Pub about a year ago, Aloha killed it. Hands down. They are one of the most entertaining bands to watch live. On stage they had two keyboards set up front, and the marimba (or whatever that thing is) set up on stage left while the bass player was stage right and the drums were right behind everything -- which would have been a perfect setup if the singer didn't also need to switch to guitar, which proved to make some space issues. They played most of their latest release, Some Echoes and then transitioned into songs from Here Comes Everyone and only played one song off of Sugar.
Right off the bat drummer Cale Parks showed his amazing ability. Out of every drummer I've ever seen, Parks takes the cake as the most inventive. He plays dynamics so well, exaggerated all the loud and all the soft hits, improvising different ways to play. The rest of the band melds extremely smoothly into each instrument they play, twisting it in a way that's unique to each member. But what really makes an Aloha show amazing is the improvisation that goes on between each song. Each song transitions into the next with a series of keyboard tweaking and percussive hits while band members switch to a different instrument. It's really undescribable. You'd have to see it yourself. Their grasp on melody and harmony and dissonance is impeccable. So go see them play, because I could write on and on and on about it, but I know you wouldn't want to read it.