Rubblebucket: Break Out the Dancing Shoes
Here’s the thing: I’ve tried to find a concise way to describe Rubblebucket’s sound. It’s just not possible. I got as far as Talking Heads meets afro-beat meets French pop with a long lost Jackson 5 guitar lick. The problem is, I used all that just to describe their song “Silly Fathers.” I guess that’s why people have put the vague label, ‘yes-wave,’ upon them. There is certainly a world beat core to their sound, but they expand upon that so wildly and take musical detours so often it would be misleading to label them as such. I guess I’m saying it would be misleading to label them at all. You just have to hear and experience them, which, thankfully, I got to do Wednesday night.
The eight piece opened up with “Raining” which starts off with, lead singer and saxophonist, Kalmia Traver singing almost monotone over a simple bass line that then explodes into a pre-chorus of waterfall synths till it dips back into a slightly quicker groove and then explodes again with Traver exchanging vocals with, band leader and trumpeter, Alex Toth on the chorus.
Their third song in the set, Breatherz (Young as Clouds), starts off with a jangly guitar picking but half-way through the song a heavy syth takes over and completely changes the sound, but still the band makes it a cohesive song. That’s the thing about the music Rubblebucket create, they have to be excellent musicians to play these songs live, and not just individually but excellent musicians as a unit. Tonight, they nailed it every time from the slightly off beat vocals of Traver and Toth on “Triangular Daisies” to their brilliant expanded cover of Bowie’s “Up the Hill Backwards.” Thankfully the small but energetic crowd returned the energy and vibe the band wanted to share. Honestly, the band and the crowd danced and celebrated as one the whole 16 song set. With the horn section mixing with the crowd during “Came Out of a Lady,” and Tarver dancing all over the place while the rest of the band exchanged solos, it truly was a sharing experience and not just a “watch us play some songs we wrote.” There was even an honest to goodness non-fabricated encore, where they asked the audience what they wanted to hear. One audience member responded, “Everything you’ve ever done.” A little unrealistic, but they did get “Bikes,” though without the baritone sax because Tarver had already put it away.
It was a brilliant night of not just music, but musicianship, and the joy that brings to a band and its audience. The one problem I have now is I need to call that earthy girl I haven’t spoken to in years and tell her there’s this band called Rubblebucket that she will love. Maybe an email will suffice.