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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

June 29, 2012 at 10:45 AM

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Truckasauras rocks hard, salutes the '90s at Barboza

truck boza.jpg
L-R Adam Swan, Tyler Swan; photo by me

"Killed it" is a cliche people say about musicians who've done something impressive. But Tyler Swan's drum violence Thursday night at Barboza was like actual killing.

He stole the show at the Truckasauras concert in the tunnel-ish venue on Capitol Hill, annihilating a set of rock drums like a cartoon Tasmanian Devil. His band swirled four-chord repetitions around him from various synthesizers, and at one point he dramatically walked off stage and let the Nintendo sounds hover.

Then after a spell he plopped back down, knives out, and killed the song.

It was one reason why, no matter if you'd seen the Seattle electronic quartet play 100 concerts before — the show felt fresh. Swan's drumming was shockingly powerful, and several banging, unreleased tracks signalled a new pop/rock direction for the group, which can sometimes veer into jazz-wonk territory. The pulling-back turned out to be a power move. It's looking like upcoming, third album "2012" is going to be good in an unexpected way.

Another reason the show was fresh: Daniel Bordon, who stood unnoticed and operating a projector behind Swan, his brother Adam, and Ryan Trudell. Bordon showed footage of '90s action movies on a screen to the left of the band, and between songs, skateboarders jumping and doing tricks. It was part of the skate/music concept of the evening.

During these little commercial breaks, a Swan brother would play a synthesizer or percussion note synchronized with the take-off and landing of the skateboarder. There was a bass hit when the skater left the ground, then a wet synthesizer noise when wheels met concrete again. It's the way audio is edited in skateboard videos, too — a popular format — where pop songs are often timed with the action. But seeing it live and with disembodied, vaguely aquatic sonic effects was weird and cool, the audio/visual sequences hanging in air still charged by the most recent Tyler Swan drum freakout.

Footage during those in-between moments came from local company Sausage Skateboards, shot by Seattle photographer/director Robin Stein, who used city scenery in artful ways a non-skating outsider could appreciate.

Bordon also played old skateboard videos from the '90s while Truckasauras performed, the '90s being a period of crazy innovation where everyone wore huge pants, skated on tiny wheels, and indulged in super-technical, low-to-the-ground street tricks. It was fun to watch.

The Truckasauras guys are in their 30s, and as they get progress with their music, are not trying to play a young man's game. It was cool to see them embrace their adolescence in the '90s, when skating rocked and so did music (grunge, etc.). Truckasauras was graceful about it — even if their grace was loud and pounding.

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