Story by Tom Smith
I arrived at Metro tonight in rare form, still reeling from last night’s booze-fueled flurry after my band’s showcase at one of Chicago’s favorite Northside hangouts, Schubas, and today’s grueling workday at my day job. Bombastic, layered rock music and a little hair of the dog was exactly what I sought. As the golden elixir passed my lips, Sound Team hit the stage. Propelled by the head-banging, four-on-the-floor pulse of drummer Jordan Johns and the punky, pocket bass of Bill Baird, the Austin, TX, group doled out a thick wall of sonic guitar and keyboard interplay. Sam Sanford’s Stratocaster vacillated between sinewy single note patterns and saturated reverb lead lines. The synthesizer and keyboard melodies of Michael Baird and Gabe Pearlman provided atmosphere during the leads and carried the melodic moments as Matt Oliver switched between his black Jazzmaster and electric piano. Oliver delivered his lyrics forcefully from the top of his larynx, diaphragm be damned.
Sound Team’s recorded work – last year’s Work EP and the forthcoming debut album, Movie Monster – is so effective because of how precise and clear the interplay is between all of these elements. The sad reality of playing rock venues is, of course, that you aren’t afforded the same level of aural sculpture as you might be in the studio. Though their performance was taut and energetic, the minute details and finesse didn’t quite come across the same in a venue like Metro. All of the material was being played deftly, but a lightly attended night in a big club can be a mid-range frequency nightmare.
They come off on stage as types you just naturally root for – dudes making subtly stacked grooves with great hooks. Their sensibilities really shined through in their performance of “Back in Town.” Oliver’s electric piano set back nicely as the Moog ran the bouncing melody over Sanford’s raking wet guitar, punctuated by Baird’s occasional vocal harmony. Some key leads were lost in the acoustic fray throughout, however, such as the walloping guitar riff on “TV Torso.”
Nevertheless, I left the club bouncing to the title track of their upcoming June release, Movie Monster, as it rattled through my noggin, washing any trace of that lingering hangover away. The band will be back in Chicago for a gig at Schubas on June 27 and I expect the small room to be packed and the rich, full sound to be spot on.
Tom Smith is the lead guitarist for Chicago’s #1 unsigned band (and Tripwire favorite), Office. The band has two remaining showcases at Schubas as part of their “Practice Space” residency on May 15 and 22. Win free tickets here. The band will also be performing at this year’s Lollapalooza festival.