EOTO, Newby’s, Memphis, TN – 11/28
Photo by Ellis Jones
EOTO, which consists of Michael Travis and Jason Hann of The String Cheese Incident, continued their endless party in Memphis at a cozy hall nudged next to the University. The fearless duo has logged in over 150 national performances this year alone, leaving euphoric faces and tired legs in their wake. Tonight would be no exception. One point to establish right away is that they are nothing like SCI. In fact a lot of their fans have never been to an Incident or even care for their music. Dub-step enthusiasts make up a large portion of their following, but to label them strictly dub-step would be a huge disservice to what they accomplish on stage. They are unique, electronic musicians, playing each show without prior planning or a track list.
The boys took the featureless stage around 9 and it was not long before we were enmeshed with heart attack-inducing bass and dance friendly beats. The crowd was easily finding their groove. Jason takes on the responsibilities of drums, among other gadgets, while Michael handles the tonal aspects. Michael played short riffs with almost every instrument imaginable, always recording then looping the spontaneous music with Jason’s powerful drumming. Once they discovered a beat to their liking, Travis would add layers upon layers stretching it across the heads of the bouncing crowd. Just as we became comfortable, with a touch of their synched laptops the beat would turn upside-down to the delight of all. The music would only pause for a moment before changing direction; the silence almost knocking me over, for I was living inside the melodic beats. An hour into the first set and kids were still piling in the front door as the show was taking on the characteristics of a basement party. The last track of the set incorporated vocal jams intertwined amongst the chaos. Jason would usually speak a phrase, and then it would be recorded and looped, becoming another weapon in their endless arsenal of sound.
The pair returned after a short break and over the next two hours, the bass shook the dance floor, nobody knowing or caring where EOTO’s powerful music would lead next. The band had transformed a college bar into a tribal ritual with everybody giving in to the waves of sound. No adjective or existing musical genre does give justice to what they accomplish on stage. It is like jazz in its purest form for the new millennium. It was such a joy to see young kids having new music to call their own, ironically fused with the technology they know oh too well. If this is the future of music, feeling old never sounded so good.