Bosnian Rainbows at Bronze Peacock Room, 5/30/2013
Ex-Mars Volta and At the Drive-In guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez has entered his weird '80s phase. What that means to his listeners will vary depending on who you ask. Perhaps the comparison means that he's transitioned from a "prog dinosaur" to the sleek veneer of New Wave a la his greatest influence, Robert Fripp of King Crimson. Perhaps it means he's left Led Zeppelin and put together the Firm, like his most frequent comparison Jimmy Page.
One thing is for sure: on Thursday night, Rodriguez-Lopez's new band Bosnian Rainbows brought something new to the fervent fans who packed the Bronze Peacock Room at the House of Blues. Almost no traces remained of the members' individual pasts, reconstituted in this new world for a new generation of fans. It's different, but did it hold up to their reputations?
To the audience who showed up, by far the most intimate one he's achieved since he last left a famous band for a brand-new, entirely different project in the smallest room Rodriguez-Lopez has played in Houston in well over a decade, it didn't seem to matter. These were hardcore fans and they were ready to dance and clap and scream regardless of what tricks Bosnian Rainbows pulled.
Those fans might have felt more at home with Zorch, the opening band from Austin who recently signed with Sargent House, who play a mixture of psychedelic and math-rock more familiar to fans of the label and the Mars Volta. The flashing acid-trip imagery behind the duo hopefully satisfied any of the audience's yearning for drug trips, because Bosnian Rainbows was having none of that.
When they hit the stage, the band immediately eschewed guitar rock in favor of atmospherics. Rodriguez-Lopez cast aside his manic soloing and vintage riffing for single notes plucked, manipulated, and dragged out with effects to create a sparse, cacophony in the background while front woman Teri Gender Bender wailed in the foreground.
Keyboardist Nicci Kaspar's synthesizers washed over the room while dull blues illuminated the captive audience. But soon it all gave way to the echoing, machine-like beats of drummer Deantoni Parks, who led the band into a march of danceable pop-rock songs.
That's the other half of Bosnian Rainbows. Atmospherics dominate, but only in as much as they set the tone for the retro post-punk dance beats that is the band's stock and trade. Rodriguez-Lopez has never been able to shake his penchant for big dumb fun; even the Mars Volta's most inaccessible songs had catchy choruses and danceable rhythms. Bosnian Rainbows is no different in that respect.