There are several different ways a band can gather fans. It might be through a song played at a certain moment in your life that remains with you forever, or lyrics that connect on impact. Austin-based indietronica band The Octopus Project offers instead a unique musical world that’s infectious, energetic and yes, contagious. Their songs are complex arrangements, necessitating an intense musicianship on both analog and electronic instruments that are sometimes switched mid-song by band members. The lineup consists of Toto Miranda (drums, guitar, bass), Ryan Figg (bass, guitar, keyboards), plus married couple Josh (guitar, drums, bass) and Yvonne Lambert (keyboards, samplers, glockenspiel, guitar and thankfully, the theremin). The group also creates arty videos, merch and performance projections that rank right up there in importance with the sound.
The Octopus Project is currently on tour in support of Fever Forms, their fifth studio album that slyly introduces vocals into the mix. By beginning its set at Mercury Lounge with the album opener, “The Fall”, the group emphasized the task at hand even without the vocals in the produced track. It’s a perfect introduction to the group—a drone tone intro slowly breaks open into an inspired frenzy. Although the small stage kept the movement somewhat contained, the full house began moving along immediately. Yvonne Lambert was a striking presence in a shiny pink sheath dress while the guys all rocked the classic fitted white shirt with skinny black ties and black pants. The band charged through more new songs, all solid conceptions in a crazy experimental way, while sprinkling in the drifting, pensive “The Adjustor” from 2005’s One Ten Hundred Thousand Million. New song “Perhap” slowed things down in order to luxuriate in a dreamy theremin solo by Yvonne Lambert. The band also returned to 2008’s Hello Avalanche for the floating tune “I Saw the Bright Shinies” and threw another worthy spotlight on the early Moog synthesizer. With a ballet background, Yvonne Lambert’s stature as she shifted tones on the theremin became a stunning dance performance.
By juxtaposing the two new singles “Whitby” and “Sharpteeth,” the band let loose in a cresting wave complete with soaring vocal melodies. The crowd and musicians on stage were able to catch their breaths somewhat during the wistful tune “Catalog” from 2010’s Hexadecagon. Yet in returning to the canon for an explosive showstopper, the band asked the audience to go low for the “quiet” middle of “Truck” (also from Hello Avalanche). With a few minutes left on the clock, the band was delighted to revisit “Porno Disaster” and “Tuxedo Hat” before bringing the set to a close. It all seemed to be an exhilarating add on for both band and fans.
// Notes from the Road
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