Columbus love for DJ & Guitar electronic/rock/groove band BoomBox seems to be fading based on their show at The Newport Music Hall last Saturday, February 12. The lacking crowd and absence of buzz around the scene led this first-time BoomBox-goer to wonder, what’s the deal?
The Newport was low-key for the show with no more than a few hundred people spread out in the floor area. The plus side of the sparse crowd was that there was plenty of room on the dance floor, but the weak turn-out was an obvious negative for the artists.
Openers Signal Path started at 9:45. They were a synth-heavy trio of multi-taskers, mixing live drums and electronics to bring some serious energy. They got the crowd going and we were glad we got there early to catch their set. At the end of their performance they announced that you can download their album for free here; they are worth checking out.
BoomBox took the stage at 11:15 to a big round of applause. The duo stood on raised platforms, one for DJ/Producer Russ Randolph and his setup, and one with a feather boa-wrapped mic as well as a DJ set up for the fu-manchu’d Zion “Rock” Godchaux (yep, son of Grateful Dead members Keith and Donna Godchaux). The multi-colored LED light bars behind the stage were cool and a nice compliment to the spotlights but the stage was, at most times, too dark to see the artist’s faces.
They have a unique sound, mixing groovy soul guitar with electronic drums and synthesizer. Godchaux doesn’t do much “shredding” per se, but would rather strum to a mellow groove. Randolph is talented on the synthesizer and the samples, but the drum beats were very repetitive. A constant booming kick drum overshadowed nearly every song. Whether it was the sound in the venue or the excessive use of bass drum, Godchaux’s vocals were indecipherable most of the show.
The set went back and forth between happy guitar-led down-tempo grooves and untzy synthesized dub-step influenced songs with less vocals. Randolph’s (and Godchaux’s) synth lines are modern and creative, but not as unique as Godchaux’s guitar parts. Even some of the bass lines were ear catching, but not surprisingly, pre-programmed (the most boring part of going to an electronic show – hearing a melody but not watching anyone play it).
Though the two musicians have been playing together since 2004, their catalog is very limited. They have only put out two albums during their 7-year career, and this was very evident during their show. Many of their songs sound the same or similar and don’t carry as much energy for it.
After about an hour and a half they covered “Who Killed Davey Moore” (Bob Dylan), and on that note, I left. The energy levels at the show were not high enough to keep me and the show was ultimately disappointing. As far as the numbers go, it would be great to see these talented guys put out some new material, but until then, BoomBox is off the radar.
By Meghan Bender