Face-Melting with Guavatron and Zero Context – NOW WITH AUDIO!
UPDATE: A three-man effort helped to produce this audio of Guavatron’s set Friday. Chuck Smalling of Funk Eye Media captured the set on iPhone (and his fine photographs in this article). Videographer extraordinaire Volke Mon remastered the audio, and Marc Foster / St Pete Taper took that audio and split up the tracks for archive.org. We are grateful to all three! (Also, proof of my claim below!)
Let’s get this out of the way first:
SCOTT: Best set ever!
GUAVATRON: You say that every time.
It was a dynamic double-header at Dunedin Brewery on Friday, January 7, as Guavatron came from West Palm Beach to grapple with Zero Context, the improvisation experiment of Michael Lyn Bryant, one of several he assembles from time to time. Bryant is also proprietor of DunBrew.
Bryant is the lynchpin of this trio, this time with a different rhythm section. Bryant was playing, performing… it’s difficult knowing how to describe the Abelton Push software he was using with, but it was magical. And this setting puts the rhythm section front and center, allowing them to shine in the improvisations. Cabe Crisler, who also plays with Bryant in another outstanding group called Follow the Monarchs, was brilliant on bass the entire all-too-short set. And he was in perfect lockstep with excellent drummer Dylan Chee-A-Tow, a member of Row Jomah, an outstanding band who consider Dunedin Brewery home bass.
Setlist? HA! There were, by my count, four distinct segments. In each, Crisler and Chee-A-Tow caught the (non-zero) context of what Bryant introduced on computer and created the grooves to match. Improv, perhaps, but infinitely danceable, as a number of people discovered. During the third segment, the trio invited Roddy Hansen of Guavatron to join them on keyboards, and that collaboration was equally successful. It is always exciting seeing musicians pushing the envelope, even more exciting when the results are so wonderful.
Then it was Guavatron time. It was great to see the dance floor packed, given the past 22 months. And, yes, they blew out the best set I’ve ever heard from them. They “eased” into the set (thanks, Adam, for suggesting this) with “Gustavo,” a bouncy, spirited song. Everybody was on fire, led by Casey Luden back at drum kit, the general in charge of tempo. They blasted “Gustavo” for 20 minutes before they downshifted into “Awake” for another nine minutes before gearing back up into “Gustavo” to close the 32-minute opener. DAMN!
I had been asked what they should open with. I offered “Cousin Kelly,” a relatively recent composition, but Adam had correctly noted that the crowd needed to be warmed up before the pure incendiary flame that is “Cousin Kelly.” Guavatron stood us on our heads for 21 minutes with an incredible romp, Conor Crookham working that space-bass and filling the brewery with more trance-dance magic.
Adonis Guava was shredding with abandon, his smile a mile wide. There is a slower section in the middle of the song that would be perfect for jamming into “I Know You Rider,” full-on Dead style.
With barely a pause, they launched into a half-hour segment that began with “GRIT,” blistering prog rock with Adonis and Crookham crushing. Hansen colored the proceedings with synths and electric piano and more synths. At some point, they shifted into “Great Abyss,” a Disco Biscuits tune. Then there was a segue into “De Funke,” one of Guavatron’s best dance tunes (OK, they’re ALL great dance tunes, as evidenced by the gyrating dance floor the entire set). Finally, they returned briefly to “GRIT.”
Adonis announced that they had time for one more song before driving the dance party into the bouncing “Disco Shades.” And they were done. Except…
Tim Palmieri, guitarist extraordinaire for The Breakfast, now with Kung Fu, and currently guesting with Lotus, was in the midst of a three-day residency at DunBrew. He played Thursday night with several area all-stars, did a happy hour acoustic set earlier Friday, and was scheduled for a full-on Beatles Brunch Saturday. He had joined the dance throng for “Disco Shades” before the band, with much encouragement from the full house, convinced him to join Guavatron for a nightcap.
As Palmieri was grabbing his guitar, Guavatron shot into “Ray Gun” without the intro at about 100 MPH. Once plugged in, he melded seamlessly with the quartet for a stunning 20-minute romp through the much-loved song. It was… spectacular!
Zero Context, Guavatron, and Tim Palmieri FTW!
[GUAVA: Gustavo > Awake > Gustavo, Cousin Kelly, GRIT > The Great Abyss > De Funke > GRIT, Disco Shades; E: Ray Gun]
Thankful to have two MusicFestNews photographers on hand: Chuck Smalling of Funk Eye Media and John Strojny of Silent J Studio. Also thankful to have Kevin Mellinger on hand with video!
GUAVATRON – Funk Eye Media
GUAVATRON – Silent J Studio