Tuesday, March 10, 2009

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Funny thing about ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. In 1999, they were considered the hope of the Western World, or at least Austin, TX. Then the band signed with Interscope and developed a nerdy interest in ancient civilizations and imaginary spiritual landscapes. Critics charged band co-founder Jason Reece with taking too much bad acid and attempting to sound like early Pink Floyd while ending up more like latter-day Styx. An Anti-Jason Reece club even emerged on MySpace, later the subject of a bruising lawsuit. Everything seemed poised for a ToD meltdown.

Well, the 2009 independent-label return of the band, Century of Self, was actually quite good, and Reece began collaborating with a wonderful group of Austin crazies, Midnight Masses, who provided occasional choral and spiritual support. I went to the Denver show March 9 with some misgivings, but was blown away by a bank for three guitars (four counting bass), dual drums, and dual keyboards. They opted for frenzy, not for overly-pompous orchestration.

Jason was on his best behavior, dragging a wired microphone out into the crowd, while Conrad Keely was shooting full cans of Budweiser before launching into something that might have been a cover of "LA Woman," getting the crowd to chant at a bouncer roughing up someone in back, and calling more than 40 members of the stage crew and support bands to come up on stage and help sing the encore.

Above is a 25-second instrumental madcap clip to give you a taste of the band. A newer number with choral support, 'Isis Unveiled,' is here, and one emphasizing keyboards, 'Bells of Creation,' is here. I also captured 'Far Pavillions' here, and an unknown song which I believe is from the legendary Source Tags and Codes album.

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