Ok, so this wasn't last night. It was Saturday night. But if you kept partying all weekend and didn't go to sleep, maybe it was last night.
Either way, Instagon played its 500th show at HB's Blue Cafe and I'm glad I went. The older I get, the less I'm impressed with bands that play traditional songs. I like groups that just get up there and go for it. And there aren't many bands that "go for it" more than the Texas Corrugators and Instagon.
Led by bassist Greg Ginn, the usual three-piece added a guitarist named Gary Piazza to their improv mix, and boy, this kid can shred. Apparently, the Corrugators played a show with Piazza in Redding and dug his sound so much they asked him to complete their tour. Like a smart man, he said yes.
Ginn held down the low end for tunes that ranged from blues grooves, mellow vibes and full-on freakouts. You'd think an all-improv band would struggle from time to time, but the Corrugators' three months away from home created a unified sound that most groups that practice the same songs four nights a week still can't touch. Drummer Steve DeLollis kept things nice and smooth while mandolinist Bobby Bancalari (seriously folks, see this guy play. You've never heard a mandolin makes these kinds of sounds) switched from rhythm player to effortless leadman.
And then there was Piazza. Like I mentioned eariler, the guy rocks. I can't imagine what sort of lame shit would come out of my amp if I joined an all-improv act that had been playing together for approximately two years, but those who'd never seen the Corrugators prior to Saturday would have never guessed the guitarist has a late addition.
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Which leads me to Instagon. Part of me wants to write a 3,000-word essay on the awesomeness of the act, while another part of me feels like there really is much to say other than it's an amazing thing to witness live. Bassist/head honcho Lob laid down basslines so nice I was reminded of how comfortable my head feels hitting my pillow. Instagon began with nine players on stage and switched as the night progressed. It's hard to have a favorite when there are so many musicians on stage, but it's equally as difficult not feel some favoritism for the theramin player. I mean, they had a freakin' theramin player. How ruling is that?
In other ruling news, Instagon had a song in which Lob would utter the phrase "jazz for Satan" every so often. I dig jazz. I also dig Satan. I really dug the tune.
Similar to the Corrugators, if I hadn't known that Instagon was improving, I'm not sure I would have noticed. Lob picked a solid bunch of guitarists and horn players to pepper a fluid sound held down by his bass, a keyboardist and a drummer.
To all musicians reading this: Ditch the tunes and start playing.