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Published: 2008/03/16
by Dan Warry-Smith

The Join and Biodiesel, Studio B, Brooklyn, NY- 2/16

Johnny Rabb and Darren Shearer list one another among their personal favorite drummers when it comes to execution and inspiration. It's no surprise then that the beats took center stage at Brooklyn's Studio B when Rabb's 'Biodiesel' and Shearer's 'The Join' shared the bill. The emergence of electronic based live jam music on the American landscape has gone virtually unnoticed, despite gaining serious momentum throughout the club, tour and festival circuits. A sampling of critics and a small niche of fans may be in the know, but the scene is still on the rise. Mixed Bag Productions, the relatively new venture of a handful of longtime live music devotees, appears to be leading the way in the Northeast with events such as this.

Coupled with the blistering bass of Clay Parnell and backed by some seriously nasty laptop sequences, Rabb unleashed his frenzied-yet-fluid style on the eager crowd with the focus of a zen master. All instrumental and totally explosive, Biodiesel's set threatened to overshadow what was to come. Rabb and Parnell's rock-solid offerings of highly danceable and intricate D&B did not let up until the final note, and the cadre of Disco Biscuit diehards in attendance were grateful.

The energy was at a fever pitch when Shearer climbed behind his kit along with fellow native Canadian Jamie Shields manning the keys. Joined (pun emphatically intended) on this night by a double duty-ing Parnell on bass and his Brothers Past bandmate Tom Hamilton on guitar, the duo of Canucks ventured into uncharted territory yet again.

The kaleidoscopic concept of The Join, which began in Toronto and has just recently expanded South of the border, is that Shearer and Shields invite a rotating cast of like-minded players to help them create a performance from virtually nothing. Rooted almost exclusively in improvisation, the music exudes a palpable vibe of daring discovery. As they have done for years with The New Deal, the two weave dance grooves so infectious they sound familiar. Hamilton and Parnell are no slouches either, and the 90 minute set they all dove headfirst into rarely lacked in feeling or quality.

While the night owls shifted their devouring attention to LA's Glitch Mob, who twisted and tweaked their sequenced beats into the wee hours, the headliners retired to the more peaceful upstairs lounge. Unlike the sweaty masses they have just conquered, these seasoned vets handle the come-down quickly and mingle comfortably before dispersing into the unusually bitter Brooklyn night. The impending dance-rock-fusion movement may still be a whispered secret in most musical circles, but this Saturday night Studio B was witness to yet another step in the revolution. And the beats go on…

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