Dredg, RX Bandits and Zechs Marquire

by Ora “Tre” Brasel
Whenever traveling out to the beaches to see a show at Freebird Live I have found that you never are quite able to guess what type of crowd is going to show. At the night’s end I found myself once again scratching my head, shrugging my shoulders, and wondering just what it is about the crowds at this venue that they tend be so schizophrenic in their reactions.
The crowd appeared in tune for a very fine evening of progressive rock music at it’s finest. Spirits seemed to be up, and looking forward to all of the acts on the bill a great deal, judging by the comments I heard mentioned while moving around the building.
Zechs Marquise was the first band to take the stage with their 4-piece band hailing from El Paso, TX. Right away these guys with their instrumental only jam filled set seemed to be channeling the sounds of THE MARS VOLTA, and as it turns out two of the members are relations to Omar Rodriquez Lopez (of THE MARS VOLTA), and one of which even plays with them currently as a percussionist. It seemed to be just about the perfect musical appetizer to heat up the crowd.
By the time RX Bandits were about to take the stage there seemed to be a healthy amount of people filling up the balcony, and the bottom area of people began pushing towards the stage to get a good view of the band. These guys seemed to benefit greatly from the crowd since they have played at Freebird before, and a large majority of them seemed to be familiar with the band and it’s songs quite well. Their ability to switch between various styles of music so effortlessly played a large part in them being able to pull my interest in a bit more with each song they played. Considering at one time this band used to primarily be a ska band it was quite interesting for me to see the evolution they had made to get to this current stage of their existence. With injections of blues, jazz, reggae, metal, and even a few touches of electronic music being thrown in the mix, they managed to blend everything together quite nicely without anything seeming out of place. However, near the end of their set the oddness of the fans this night finally started to show itself. Though most of the people in the building seemed to be having a great time and deeply involved in enjoying every second of it, there was a group of people around us who were being very rude yelling things at the band such as “get off the stage”, “you suck”, and other things I won’t bother with repeating here. The fact they were being disrespectful and unruly is all too often common place at shows and that wasn’t what made it seem odd to me, but the fact they had been dancing and having a grand old time before that to the band’s music was what made me so bewildered by their actions. Nonetheless the band never seemed to pay any attention to their ignorant remarks, and finished out their set to receive a thunderous round of applause from those who had appreciated their musical efforts greatly.
So as time was getting closer to when DREDG would finally take the stage for the last performance of the evening we noticed that almost a quarter or more of the audience had already left the show, and more were heading out as we waited for DREDG to set up the stage. It seemed quite odd to me that this many people would vacate a show before the main band on the bill had even played a song. Even stranger to me was considering the fact that throughout the show almost everyone I spoke with or overheard in random conversations seemed to be saying they had come tonight to see DREDG. Regardless of the split personalities of the audience as a whole on this night, those that were devoted were quite eager to see DREDG take the stage despite their dwindling numbers. Sadly also those same ones who had been so completely disrespectful to the last band had remained just behind me, and continued bellowing back and forth between each other in what I guess was either how they communicated or some type of mating ritual. This was to the expense of everyone’s ears, which were unfortunate enough to be stuck within their proximity. I remember thinking to myself “why couldn’t these fools leave, instead of those who here enjoying themselves without being a nuisance to others”, but as with any show you can’t weed out people to your own benefit.
Finally after several minutes that seemed to go on for lifetimes, and a newly formed migraine pulsating through my head from senseless banter bouncing off my cranium, it was time for DREDG. It wasn’t hard to appreciate this band’s musical capabilities despite having the equivalent of a thunderstorm going on in my head when they finally started playing. At first it was hard for me to imagine that they ended up rolling out allowed some of the pressure in my head to ease up, but it did. Composed of just four members, and at times sounding as if they are many more. The use of samplers and effects processors were put to use having multiple hands working on stage to create the multiple layers of sound that ended up coming out of the speakers. Despite the music being able to soothe my head back into a manageable state again with it’s serenity, it was still not enough to reel in everyone else in attendance. The crowd had at this point dissipated into only about a little more than a quarter of the audience that was originally inside the venue at the night’s start. This was surely a bit disappointing to the band, but they showed no signs of it being a frustration to them in any way. Towards the end of the show they even invited a local band called THE SUN BEARS up onto stage with them to perform with them, and it seemed like they were determined to have fun regardless of the small size of the crowd at this point. As things winded down to the final song of the evening those left remaining in attendance continued to shower the band with respect for putting on a great show, but I couldn’t stop wondering to myself just how much better the show could have been had the audience been a bit more consistent overall. Oh well, I should know this very well by now that this is just how things sometime go in the world of the ever unpredictable of the strange species, which is the audiences at Freebird Live events. At least I can say more often than not the unpredictability of this species generally ends up being a good thing, but just wasn’t so much on this evening.