Brian Gorman of Tartufi
Photo by: Reid Williams

The most recent addition to the Thread family, Sky Pilots would have fit perfectly in the middle of the mid-90s Midwest indie-rock scene, where Fugazi's post-hardcore infleunces coming from the east met Sunny Day Real Estate's atmospheric, vaguely proggy emo sound coming from the west. Like bands such as Braid, Shiner, Bluetip, Jejune, and Giants Chair, Sky Pilots combine muscular rhythm sections with angular guitar chime for a sound that's at once aggressive and expansive. They even use Braid's dual-vocalist tactic to highlight the different sides of the band's personality (bassist Mike Chopko is the "sensitive crooner"; guitarist Patrick Watchter is the "yeller"). If they had been around ten years ago, Sky Pilots would have been in danger of getting lost in the shuffle; in present-day San Francisco, however, they stand out as fresh and energetic, and maybe even smartly poised to spearhead a revival. (Although I'm not so sure about those white headbands they and their fans were sporting during their set— is "tennis-rock" really the right angle here?)

As a guitar-drums duo playing complex instrumental rock, Silian Rail are bound to get hella Hella comparisons, even though they aim for a cleaner, less chaotic sound. Like Sky Pilots, their sound also has roots in the mid-90s Midwest, though their mathy/swoony himing-guitar-plus-heavy-drums sensibility is more in line with Chicago's jazz-inflected post-rock sound and bands like Pele, Dianogah, and the Joan of Arc/Owls/Ghosts and Vodka axis. Like Hella, though, Silian Rail's band structure is inverted— guitarist Robin builds burbling, hypnotic arpeggios that work as a base for hard-hitting drummer Eric to take the instrumental lead.

When it comes to the question that all two-person bands inevitably face— namely, how do two people make a big enough sound?— Silian Rail focuses on technical instrumental prowess; Tartufi, on the other hand, sees nothing wrong with having technology help out a bit. With a battery of looping pedals at their command, Lynne Angel and Brian Gorman layer guitar riffs upon vocal melodies upon drum breaks until they've constructed a swirling, delirious symphony. Their live show amply demonstrates the ambitiousness of this approach, as well as the potential pitfalls of looping sounds in real time. Occasionally, a flubbed note or inadvertent squeal of feedback would make its way into a loop, the mistake compounding each time it got repeated. And the band would sometimes drift out of the sync with the loops, or the loops would even get out of sync with each other. It takes a lot more effort and concentration to get live looping right than it is to merely lay with live musicians, or even play to a pre-recorded backing track, and when Tartufi does lock in the effect its astonishing: their music seems to build upon itself effortlessly, the band's interaction with its own echoes approaching something like communion with a spirit world. It's in these moments where they're able to fully capture the joyously overflowing vibe of their records, and prove once again that they're one of the best bands in the Bay Area today.

Contributed by: Nick Mirov

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You can check out some live photos of this great event below! Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the images in a separate window.


Photos By: Reid Williams

Low Red Land

Silian Rail

Tartufi

Please do not reproduce these photos without explicit permission from the photographer or The Bay Bridged. Thank You.