Fans of the widely popular progressive rock jam band Umphrey’s McGee were given a special evening of UM-latent side projects. Most notably, Digital Tape Machine, the seven-piece electronic dance rock supergroup from Chicago and also the side project of UM members, Joel Cummins(keys and synth) and Kris Myers(drums). The rest of DTM’s members are: Joe Hettinga(Strange Arrangement) on the keys, Bryan Doherty on bass guitar, Marcus Rezak(The Hue) on guitar, Dan Rucinski(Land of Atlantis) on guitar and production, and David Arrendondo on turntables and production. Cosby Sweater was the opening act for the evening. You can read my review of their set here. In addition to DTM and Cosby, Dexterous Roy, another side project of Kris Myers’, also featured producer Arrendondo. The drum-n-bass duo played a nice mini set sandwiched between Cosby Sweater and Digital Tape Machine. Honestly, I hadn’t heard anything by Dexterous Roy and didn’t know what was going on when only two of the seven members of DTM were on stage. It didn’t take me long to realize the duo was something separate from the seven-piece supergroup. Dexterous Roy began, presenting the dance groove hungry crowd with smooth basslines and up tempo break beats. It was definitely different from most DnB I’ve heard, possibly containing elements of deep house music. It sounded very good, was well-layered, and far more exploratory than most of the DnB music I’ve heard. I was quite impressed with the duo’s ability to craft such harmonious sounds with such rapid beat breaks. The music wound down and the duo exited the stage, signaling the end to Dexterous Roy’s set.
After a very brief break, all seven members of Digital Tape Machine entered the stage, each funneling to their respected posts. They opened the set with, “White Light”, bringing the funk right to the energetic crowd. The song featured deep house dance grooves meshing perfectly with analog sounds produced by the guitars, bass, and drums. With the group’s roots being in Chicago, the birthplace of house music, it was no surprise DTM was producing house driven electronic dance music. “Be Here Now”, was the next song played, featuring crisply popping beats and fun dance infusing melodies. DTM jammed straight into “Ragestick”, which I do believe is a new song in DTM’s arsenal, introducing far out spacey down tempo jams and video game sounding electronic elements to the mix of genre bending music. The new track sounded excellent until the emergence of edgy guitar shreds began to drive up the tempo. I will say this, the group to maintain the fun dance grooves during the progressive rock guitar shredding. “Electric ET” followed the new song, continuing with heavy and in your face guitar riffs, clearly containing elements of UM’s edgy progressive rock style. Myers high energy drum play, Doherty’s up tempo bass slapping, Cummins and Arrendondo’s production of rapid electro house electronic grooves, and Hettinga’s well timed use of the keys overshadowed the typically loved face melting guitar play. It worked, and allowed for interesting up tempo soundscapes to be created.
The next part of DTM’s set was easily my favorite, featuring an epic jam of “Circus Pets>Beep Bot>Great Dane”. The jam out featured a perfect mixture of house driven electronic music, beautiful melodies, guitar overtones, drum-n-bass grooves, hip hop beats, tribal beats and even psychedelic rock elements. This portion reminded me of the Umphrey’s McGee years ago, exploring musical avenues with funky improvisations. The “Beep Bot>Great Dane” transition contained tribal drum beats with the heavy electro house sounds, creating more intricate soundscapes. Heavy guitar shredding soon emerged, injecting the crowd with a much needed boost of energy. The fun and high energy dance music had the members of the band bouncing around just like the crowd. Next, the crowd was given a special treat when Digital Tape Machine covered LCD Soundsystem’s, “Tribulations”, a fun track by the EDM legend. The cover was crisp, fresh, and a perfect choice to balance the flow the set. The fun and funky dance grooves soon faded, with edgy prog rock guitar jams and electro house dance reemerging during “Pinwheeling” and “Hop on Scotch”. The crowd was in awe of the heavy combination of dance music. DTM’s eclectic mixtures of genres were definitely working, the crowd cheering the group as “Scotch” ended.
The last jam of the set brought the bass, drums, keys, and production fused funky dance grooves back with the “Northwest Dance>David v. Nick” jam. Melodic grooves pulsated through the crowd, but were kept tight with crisp bass popping. I was glad to see the funky space jams come back. The portions of the set containing these far out jams were by far my favorite. The electronic house beats and analog improvisation were perfect matches. Myers wound the music down, pleasantly “ending” DTM’s set. The band and crowd went through the typical self-fulfilling encore motions, with the band members obviously coming out for one more. “I Am You Are Me”, was chosen to truly end the evening. The song was a nice ending to their masterful set. Even in the back shadows of the rest of the group, Joe Hettinga was still my favorite member on stage. I’ve seen him play with Strange Arrangement and he’s always smiling and bouncing around. He always makes things really fun. Personally, I could have done without the progressive rock guitar play, but it clearly worked and delivered more genre blending music to the crowd. I had a lot of fun at The Vogue, and was treated with three excellent musical acts.
Photos by: Aaron Lingenfelter, Wide Aperture Images