Denver trio brings Dream Rock to Manchester
Anyone claiming that electronic music is just kids with laptops hasn’t witnessed a performance by Evanoff. Sure, there are two Ableton-equipped MacBook Pros onstage, synched together like twin minds and packed with loops, effects and other studio created sounds, but when band namesake JJ Evanoff plays guitar, icons like Hendrix, Zappa and Jeff Beck come to mind, not Skrillex.
Don’t let the gear distract; Evanoff is a music machine.
The Denver trio calls its sound Dream Rock, a melding of classic influences and modern wizardry. “It has a very cinematic feel, a lot of very big synths and cutting edge electronic production, but we’re still very rooted in rock and roll,” JJ Evanoff said in a recent phone interview. “A lot of our songs have a dreamy ethereal feel, and a hard edge.”
JJ Evanoff cites David Gilmour and Pete Townshend as key influences. He learned the entirety of Pink Floyd’s The Wall in middle school, and his first public performance was a rendition of “Pinball Wizard” that resulted in his friends carrying him off the stage in triumph like a game-winning athlete.
A few years later, he attended a Sound Tribe Sector 9 show and saw his future. “In high school, I got very into electronic music, and the other guys here (keyboard player Brennan Forrester and drummer Jake Hall) also did,” he said,. “When I saw that (STS9), I knew it was possible to merge those two worlds into one cohesive musical experience.”
An Evanoff show is a body moving experience, sweaty and energetic, all the while showcasing astounding musicality. Programmed lights add force to the overall presentation, waves of synthesizers and space age sounds punctuated by JJ Evanoff’s tastefully frenetic fretwork. The recently released single “Dahlia” is a tour de force, layer upon layer of keys, and acoustic guitar samples set atop a pulsing rhythm bed, leading to a soaring Evanoff solo worthy of his guitar heroes.
Sometimes, the tribute as more direct, as on the Hendrix/Funkadelic mashup, “We Want The Foxy Lady.”
Huge in their hometown, often selling out big venues, Evanoff is calibrating its efforts for a national stage. A force at festivals, they’re busy cultivating audiences city by city. An upcoming show in Manchester is their second this year.
“It honestly was one of our favorite shows, the crowd is very lively,” JJ said of their January appearance at Penuche’s Music Hall in the Queen City. “We’ve had a lot of a social media engagement from fans around the area, and we’re really excited to come back.”
As he talked, JJ Evanoff and his mates were motoring east from a gig in the Rocky Mountain town of Crested Butte, on a tour that would start with a show in New York City followed by their first appearance at the massive Camp Bisco Festival.
“It has a lot of our idols,” JJ Evanoff said of a festival bill that includes The Disco Biscuits, Bassnectar and Umphrey’s McGee – not to mention STS9. “We get to network, meet people, and we’re getting to kick off the festival at the space by the wave pool. Which is supposed to be one of the better sets, because everybody is just chilling there during the day. So we think it’s gonna be a pretty big opportunity for us.”
Taking a net-savvy approach to building a national following, Evanoff is releasing a song a month on Facebook, Spotify, Soundcloud and other platforms; “Dreamin’” is the latest; it came out in early July.
“The typical jam band model, where you tour as much as humanly possible so you get a chance to play for fans in all these little cities, is very different from the rest of the music industry,” JJ Evanoff said, adding that the group’s goal is “to tour where our fans are… gradually lean more in that direction [and] and see if we can really grow our online presence.”