A Review: Signal Path
Signal Path wsg Inkface and Innerphonic
The Blind Pig – Ann Arbor, Michigan
May 22nd, 2010
Review By Greg Molitor
Photos By Tim Ramirez
Often in life, events take place that break our preconceived notions. Over the past few years, my love for live-performance electronic music has faded significantly. In 2006, I became a passionate STS9 fan, but each passing minute since has produced more cynicism for artists who drop their instruments for laptops. However, I unabashedly respect every musician, regardless of genre, who is willing to create for our enjoyment instead of a heavier paycheck. This respect led me to my first Signal Path concert, performed May 22nd at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor. I will admit I was not overly excited for this show. I have enjoyed listening to Signal Path over the years on the Internet Archive, but attending recent electronic shows has produced serious doubts regarding the future of the live music scene as a whole. Thankfully, I view our world differently after Saturday night.
Around 10:30 P.M., I arrived alone to The Blind Pig to catch the beginning of Inkface. Inkface is a spacey, texture-driven progressive rock outfit from Inkster, Michigan, who recently went through a lineup change. This was my first opportunity to see the newly reformed band and was intrigued to see what the band had to offer. As the group began their set, their sound was not leveled properly and had some equalization issues. As the set progressed, these kinks were worked out as best as they could be. With that being said, the performance was both unique and interesting, containing moments of pure brilliance and bliss for the audience.
Inkface music cannot be described by conventional methods due to its originality; I have never heard anyone make music like this before. What can be said about the music, in turn, is that it creates a duality of emotions: excitement and terror, joy and pain, happiness and sorrow….The band has sufficient technical ability to reach their creative vision, but until Inkface takes an all-encompassing professional approach to their music, the band will not overcome the small elements which keep them from taking the next step. I personally know some of the band and how dedicated they are to their music, so I fully expect them to continue to work on developing a rich blend of sound that represents their love and passion for creatively pushing the boundaries of what is considered art.
After a short break between sets, Signal Path took the stage to a decently-sized Blind Pig crowd. Members Ryan Burnett (Laptop and Guitar) and Damon Metzner (Drums) were greeted by a warm ovation from the eager crowd. As Burnett dropped the first bass note from his laptop, I was instantly enthralled. Electronic music rarely captivates me in the live setting due to the lack of spontaneity which stems from the use of inorganic, pre-recorded tracks. Signal Path was an entirely different vibe which I attribute to their use of live drums and guitar. The music never became stale or watered-down and provided a fresh view of what is possible with laptop-produced sounds.
Signal Path played one extended set of funky electronica that lasted nearly ninety minutes. What I enjoyed most was the fiery ferocity of drummer Damon Metzner’s playing. Not only was his timing spot-on throughout most of the evening, his drumming was incredibly forceful and emotional. Both members were having a party on stage the entire show, clearly appreciating what their own performance was bringing to the audience. The crowd’s reactions to their offerings pushed Signal Path to create larger moments as the show continued until its eventual end.
I wish I could be more of a help with regards to what songs were played, but unfortunately, I am not familiar with their tunes and could not get my hands on a set list. Regardless, the show was refreshing in a number of ways. Not once during the evening did I get the dirty feeling I get at electronic music shows. Beyond that, this was the best electronic music concert I have seen in years. I danced my ass off the entire show and was sad to see it end when it was closing time. With about ten minutes left in their set, Burnett thanked the crowd for attending and showed his appreciation for Michigan with a few heartfelt compliments. The biggest compliment to the band was the size of the crowd when the show ended. Many times and more often than not, a Blind Pig crowd is about half the size at a show’s end compared to the beginning. Not this night. Almost everyone stayed until the very end, and I cannot blame them. It was a funky good time.
I can’t say that Signal Path single-handedly rejuvenated my interest in live electronic music, but I certainly will be more open to seeing more shows of that nature. It’s humbling when one realizes they don’t have everything figured out; for me, it can be hard to admit. As a society, once each of us can unmask and admit to our own shortsightedness and preconceived opinions, the true beauty of life emerges through the channel of endless possibilities. This is why events such as this concert can be so instrumental to our personal growth. I now know there is much more to my future than once believed. Thank you, Signal Path.