Live Review: navigator/communicator, prom king, otto, Fischkopf Sinfoniker

march 15 • the shakedown

Celebrating their third anniversary on March 15, the festivities at The Shakedown included cheap drink specials, and a very diverse line up of awesome local music ranging from electronic, instrumental, and hardcore.
Fischkopf Sinfoniker began night’s festivities. Standing tall in a spiked leather jacket covered in patches and graffiti, Jackson Daugherty created an aggressive and exciting set of electronic music using a collection of dedicated hardware, such as the Roland Groovebox and a Kaoss pad (no Macbook in sight), to perform his set of heavy music; distorted, fast, and industrial, each song smoothly linked together with tight, clever transitions. There was a lot of diversity in the music, while never drifting too far from Daugherty’s established sound, using samples ranging from Charlie and the Chocolate factory to Ocarina of Time.
Next up was Prom Queen, who, do to a work conflict, were waiting for their lead singer to get off of work. Not able to hold off the start of the show, the band went on without ‘em. The initial anxiety passed when he casually walked on stage at the beginning of the second song, still clad in work clothes, took the microphone in hand and began without skipping a beat. Prom King puts on a hell of show, creating an impressive mixture of intricate, dynamic, tight instrumentation and passionate, screamo-esque vocals. It was hard to believe that this was only the bands fourth performance.
Otto played next, bringing in a more proggy, psychedelic rock feel to the night. Playing an eclectic range of style in their music, their rhythm section at times drives the music hard, using a lot of groovy, aggressive bass and drum parts that contrasted well with the more spacey, chorus laden guitar parts and Moog-like synths; other times they played in a more punk, alt rock fashion that’s reminiscent of Television or the Clash. Their songs often feel upbeat, but with a subtle darkness to them that gives them an introspective edge. It’s an interesting combination of old and new styles (and their awesome, energetic stage presence) that made Otto’s set so irresistible.
The final act of the night was trio Navigator Communicator, featuring Zach Zinn, Peter Hilleary and Chris Sherer, all veterans of the Bellingham music scene. They turned the dance floor into their stage and turned down the lights, giving a more intimate feel to the night. A post-metal instrumental act, they layered thick bass guitar parts through a looper, while live drums drove the music and the guitars and synths added melody and ambience. They would often work off a single riff to build a powerful wall of sound, adding new layers of dark and broody textures, then change directions to create a wonderful sense of release when they broke their own mold. It was a clean and dynamic performance, emotionally charged with absolutely no lyrics to guide it.
The night felt successful and fun, full of music lovers and talented musicians; happy birthday to the Shakedown indeed.
–Jake Werrion