A Thursday night filled with electronic driven dance music started off with local trio Cosby Sweater opening up for Digital Tape Machine. Normally I don’t give any opener a full review, but this evening was special for the group. You can read my review of Digital Tape Machine here. Reasons being, the group was hosting their CD Release Party and the set they played warrants a full description. Cosby Sweater, created as a side project by three local musicians, has quickly formed into being one of Indy’s most talked about music groups. Fun and energetic live shows and excellent studio work combined to generate a lot of buzz amongst local music fans. I entered The Vogue with my head bobbing to hip hop beats combined with dark electronic grooves. I soon heard Andre 3000’s voice resonate through the crowd, indicating “SBTRKT vs. Outkast(Cosby Sweater Mash N’ Tater)”, had been chosen as the opening song. Heavy electro jams and pounding drum beats combined bring the tempo up a few notches. When an auto-tuned voice started listing off Indiana cities, I knew the next track was “Hey Girl Hey”. Hearing the pounding of drums by Richard “Sleepy” Floyd, was reassuring after a logistically forced absence kept him from playing their recent show opening for Pretty Lights. With Nicholas Gerlach(tenor saxophone/EWI) and David Embry(production) creating the unique flow of music, Sleepy is the key ingredient, holding the starkly different sounds together to create the unique blend of music.
I hadn’t been there very long before Gerlach chimed in, producing smooth uppity jazz notes to compliment the vibrant electronic tempo. Cosby Sweater’s signature sound and unique blending of hip hop, electro, EDM, and jazz were already on display. Improvisation was used to transition into the New Deal’s “VL Tone”, a spunky and high energy track by the sadly missed livetronica legends. The cover sent further energized the crowd, stirring the crowd into a dance party. Using a crafty improvisation in combination with hip hop break, the group took the high energy dance music toward something vastly different. I was taken aback when it became apparent he had begun playing the notes to “Jingle Bell Rock”, a Christmas classic. It was absolutely wonderful and well executed. The sounds combined to make a playfully crafted holiday remix. Sleepy and Embry pushed the tempo harder, coming together to form high energy electro music. Gerlach’s sax play flowing in perfect harmony with the electro house jam, but leading back to a Christmas tune. This time, the notes to “Jingle Bells” belted from his tenor sax. Embry playfully mixed in a version of the song featuring a well placed voice dubbing of the high pitched girl singing the carol. It absolutely was working. Especially when the medley grooved hard into “Here Comes Santa Clause” and back into “Jingle Bell Rock”. A groove toward up tempo electro house beats was quickly halted when the tenor sax pelted out the notes again to “Jingle Bells”. I normally loathe Christmas music, but not Cosby Sweater’s medley of classics. The mashup of holiday tracks is properly named,”The Christmas Melody”, and featured off of their newly released Christmas album. This track featured so many different styles of music, while maintaining the Christmas tracks’ signature sounds.
The next portion of the set was by far my favorite, featuring the lengthiest jam of the evening and best Christmas remix as well. Cosby took the set away from Christmas remixes for a moment, with “Landing Gear”. The song was well crafted and provided the perfect flow toward dark electro house beats. With this, the track seamlessly flowed into “Hole”, perfectly displaying their unique blend of sound. The sultry jazz soundscapes coming from the sax meshed perfectly with the dark electro beats. Embry began to take control of the music, creating a dark up tempo dance melodies and crisp breaks. With ease, the music began to groove into another track, still featuring heavy electro house sounds. Gerlach finally chimed in with the sax, playing the notes to “Joy to the World”. I thought this Christmas remix was the best of the evening. The playful battle between the smooth uppity jazz notes and dark electro beats perfectly captured the essence of Cosby’s unique blend of music. I saw a lot of huge smiles on people’s faces as their bodies pulsated to the music. It was obvious the members of the band were having a lot of fun playing the unique mixes for the crowd.
With the crowd energized, Cosby moved away from the Christmas music, transition back into “Hole”. The trio pushed the tempo faster and faster, testing the limits of the dancing crowd. The next track, “Open Mouth Kiss”, featured a slower tempo, Gerlach’s signature jazz riffs, and trip hop beats. Cosby continued with another track from their first album, “Huxtable Hustle”, only remixed and featuring the vocal addition of Busta Rhymes’ lyrics. A remix of Paul McCartney’s hit Christmas song, “Wonderful Christmas Time”, was the final song of the evening. The remix contained dance invoking disco grooves combined with and crisp bass chops. I grinned ear to ear when a dubbed “ho, ho, ho” by Santa produced the beat breaks. It was kind of ingenious. The song was a perfect remix of the original, highlighted by the beautiful mix of jazzy sax play, fun breaks, and Paul McCartney’s legendary voice. It was a perfect choice to end the perfect set. The uniquely crafted Christmas music was excellent. The local trio started the evening off perfectly, and remained atop my list for best set of the evening. You can download Cosby Sweater’s newly released Christmas remix album at: http://cosbysweater.bandcamp.com/
Written by: Alex Toy
Photos by: Aaron Lingenfelter, Wide Aperture Images