We'll Do It Live


05.13.11 | San Francisco, CA

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Rubblebucket by John Margaretten

The red lights stare and the curtain rises at the Boom Boom Room, an SF haunt that’s been the early crucible for a lot of terrific modern bands, and Rubblebucket leaps out, ready to join that list of greats-in-the-making with a group grope so sensual that it takes under a minute for bodies to press in even tighter, nostrils flaring, sweat beginning to drip but soon to pour, pooling in the hollows of backs and matting hair beautifully. Few young bands feed off a crowd’s energy like these Brooklyn-by-way-of-Vermont kids, and given the salivating reception they are receiving, Rubblebucket hits a hard charge early of the gate. They are a true original in a time when so much music seems like merely recombinant derivatives. Theirs is a very up-to-date, contemporary sound grounded in much, much older soil; the rhythms of reggae and Africa mingling with New York No-Wave, bubbling New Wave pop and a non-specific spiritual feel that’s intoxicating like private reserve communion wine with all the church-i-ness removed. Within two songs, I feel my own body temperature rise and grip the edge of the side stage, grinding semi-consciously, taken with full permission by the music and the charming band making it.

Eight strong onstage, Rubblebucket exhibits so much joy in what they do that one would have to be a big ol’ meanie to not brighten in their presence. If one is already of a positive mindset, well, they’ll send ya into orbit, as they did with many at the Boom Boom. At any given moment any number of elements might be the catalyst for launch – the keyboardist making the very most of the house Hammond organ, the undulating horns dancing in the air, or perhaps the pure aphrodisiac pow of lead singer Kalmia Traver. They also happen to write some kickass hooks, as witnessed by the hand dancing and sing-alongs during “Silly Fathers” and new standout “Came Out Of A Lady.” Even those unfamiliar with these gems from Rubblebucket’s new album Omega La La (still available for free download here) lift their arms to the sky and by song’s end, chanting the chorus along with the faithful.

Towards the end of the first set an idea jumps to the front of my skull: This vibrant, engaging and engaged music is what a whole world of music sounds like when properly masticated. In the 21st century we can access the flavors of every country and time period within the frozen grip of recorded music. It can be downright dismaying to face all of the options, sinkholes to swallow one everywhere, a lifetime spent only in the jazz aisle or carefully studying Brazil’s insanely rich musical history. But, there’s another option embodied by Rubblebucket, who run their hungry fingers through the soundwaves and pull together an elegant, borderless tapestry. Tribal chant, discoball fervor, classic soul, Radiohead-y rock and dub thunder all jostle inside their muse, often finding representation in a single piece, even though the notion defies logic. Great ideas often do thumb their noses at rationality. But the path less traveled isn’t found by the guy with a compass, and Rubblebucket are surely blazing their own trail. (Dennis Cook)

This hard touring group will performing extensively throughout the summer. Find their full tour schedule here. And check out the brand spankin’ new video for “Silly Fathers” below.

Once again, Dirty Impound is pleased to share John Margaretten’s pics for this show.