Jar’d Loose/Microwaves at The Sidebar Tavern

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Friday, January 11, 2013

Despite the fact that I enjoy going to shows and checking out bands live, I have a habit of dropping out of the local scene for a month or two at a time. Two factors have often contributed to this: living outside of the city and writing about shows multiple times a week. When I’m in the middle of a show binge there’s usually a lot to go check out and write about, and driving in and out of the city on a nightly basis while having to collect your thoughts about 3-4 bands a day wears you down pretty quick. So as a result, the last time I had been to a performance was the end of November. I decided to get back in the swing of things by seeing Jar’d Loose, a Chicago noise rock band that put out a great debut album last year. They’re currently making their way up and down the East Coast (the tour will be over by the 19th), but the high energy performance they put on makes the group worth checking out if you can catch them.

Four bands were originally booked at Sidebar to play this show, but one had to drop off as their singer was ill. Additionally, the first act of the night wasn’t one that I found particularly appealing based on my genre preferences so rather than bash them unnecessarily I decided it would be best to take a quick detour outside of the venue. Upon my return Pittsburgh’s Microwaves had just started to set up for their set. It was a name I had heard before, as the band has put out releases on labels such as Crucial Blast over their twelve plus years of existence, but I wasn’t overly familiar with what they sounded like. As soon as they started playing it became clear that I was going to love what they had to offer though, as the songs were spastic and constantly changing in a way that was reminiscent of Arab on Radar and other noise/math rock favorites. Microwaves play loud and let the sound completely consume your eardrums, and when combined with the sort of high precision time changes and fast paced riffs this made their set really stand out. The Arab on Radar comparison might make you think that the vocals are of the high pitched screechy variety, but this isn’t the case. All three members of the band contribute vocals and each one has a very different pitch, giving the material an aggressive high/low spread. The off-kilter feel to their material might be a bit much for some people but if you’re into noise/math rock that really ups the experimentation Microwaves is a must see, as their set was one of the most fun I’ve had watching a band in a while.

You can never predict what a group’s live performance will sound like, as bands can have highly polished albums and then fall apart on stage. But as Jar’d Loose started playing material from their debut what struck me the most was that they sounded exactly the same as on record, albeit in a louder form. This may be a sign that the band tried to maintain a raw sound when they were in the studio, but it’s always great when a group can take the stage and truly offer their fans their material without it devolving into a noisy mess. For those of you who haven’t heard Jar’d Loose yet their songs have a distinctive noise rock bass that sounds like it could have fit right in with the early Amphetamine Reptile roster. But there’s more to their material than just noise rock, as the songs really focus on catchy, driving riffs that span a whole slew of different rock styles. Vocalist Eddie Gobbo has a very abrasive and slightly off-kilter vocal style, and as he jumped around the stage of Sidebar he was able to hit all of these pitches without any loss of intensity. The group hit all of the songs from their debut I was hoping to hit, and while they kept their set fairly short the energy level throughout was great and the sound quality remained top notch. In my opinion, bands like Jar’d Loose are really able to thrive in smaller environments as it allows the audience to get closer to them and soak up the energy they provide. Sidebar’s the perfect Baltimore venue for this type of performance, and the group was able to channel their intensity and make each audience member feel it. While I do hope that they gain additional exposure and bigger opportunities, it would be cool if the band continues to hit these smaller venues along the way. As I mentioned earlier, this East Coast tour only lasts for another week or so but I expect they’ll continue to tour throughout 2013 and if you like this kind of music I’d recommend trying to catch them when they come around.

Links:

Jar’d Loose- http://www.facebook.com/jardloose
Microwaves- http://www.facebook.com/pages/MICROWAVES/71654974604

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