EOTO bring impressive new stage show to Boston
A review of EOTO at the House of Blues on February 9, 2012
Performing at the House of Blues for a paltry five dollars, EOTO debuted a brand new stage setup last Thursday. The “lotus stage” was a veritable throne on which Michael Travis and Jason Hann sat, complete with dazzling three-dimensional imagery and plenty of flashing lights. The result? An incredibly fun show that had everyone in the near sell-out crowd dancing.
The Colorado-based dubstep duo, which began as a side project for the two percussionists of The String Cheese Incident, are one of the most unique live music experiences you can have. Surrounded by sound equipment and computers, every live performance is improvised from beginning to end. Their shows are completely different from one another. In fact, their three studio albums are simply live shows that have been mixed and mastered.
Reviewing an EOTO show is difficult precisely because they don’t have any “songs” to speak of, nor are there really any vocals. You have no idea what the two are going to put together on a given night – it’s all part of the experience. There’s definitely a certain pacing to an EOTO show, however. Things start simply enough, with Travis and Hann offering ideas to one another. Eventually, they find a groove they can work with and start to build on it. Standing in front of the glow of two computers, Travis sets up loops and helps give songs a sense of structure. Meanwhile, Hann is content to lay down tight disco beats on a traditional drum kit. And then they would switch places and do it all over again. It all came together to create a surprising amount of spectacle, given that EOTO is only two people.
Of course, the brand new lotus stage, which made its debut at this show, helped create amp up the visuals. The setup is absolutely astounding – the two guys sit in front of a giant flower-shaped display filled with a number of different patterns and designs. Naturally, everything that happens within the lotus stage is linked to what’s going on musically, creating a cohesive experience for those in attendance.
EOTO wove through a number of different styles during the show, which also served as a live video shoot. At times it was straightforward, driving disco, while at others they would cut into a half-time beat and work into a lurching dubstep groove. And occasionally the two would slip a little bit of String Cheese Incident electronic jams. A seemingly endless number of vocal samples to work with helped keep things fresh and dynamic throughout the course of the show. Given that the two are both acclaimed percussionists, there were plenty of intricate rhythms to wade through as well.
And the crowd adored all of it. Packing the House of Blues, the audience was a virtual sea of glowsticks. EOTO had everyone’s attention from the very first minute, striking that perfect balance of giving a groove enough time to sink in and not allowing them to wear out their welcomes. There was enough musical diversity that virtually everyone’s tastes were accommodated at one point or another. It all came together to create a truly unique and enjoyable dance party.
It can be difficult to find live shows that add so much to the listening experience of a band. More often than not, you’ll likely end up hearing straight-up versions of album tracks. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that – music is frequently about basking in the familiar. However, EOTO have taken things in a completely different direction. It’s exciting to walk into one of their shows simply because you know what you’re about to hear is never going to be replicated again. There’s something about the spontaneity that makes them a very appealing band to see live.
It creates an interesting dynamic between performer and listener. Because there’s no form to keep, EOTO is able to tweak their music based on audience perception, which means each performance is, in a way, “customized” for the given crowd. There was a palpable sense of excitement throughout the show, even from those who had seen EOTO a bunch. The lotus stage was an awesome visual spectacle that added a lot to the experience. Boston was lucky enough to get a taste of what EOTO has in store for 2012, and it looks like things are off to a great start for the two.