This weekend I went to Quixote's to see two bands I'd heard of but had never seen. In the front room was Harmonious Junk. I walked into a cover of Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein," a brave choice without a key player in the band. Damon Wood's guitar-work was almost enough to make up for the lack of a synthesizer, but the psychedelic breaks in the song just weren't the same. In their second set, they threw together a number of great songs, though I felt the choices were typical jamband covers (ie. Shakedown St., We Want The Funk, Also Sprach Zathustra). There were a couple of rhythmic glitches as the band had issues landing some of their jams and fell out of time on occasion. Their sound was cluttered and divided as if they'd never focused on meshing their sounds into a cohesive mix. Rather, it seemed like Damon was running the show and the rest of the band was barely keeping up. The rhythmic hiccups were the product of the general wobbles that seemed to threaten the course of most of their sets. Not that they were out of rhythm, but there was an audible uncertainty as they tackled material that might have been a bit beyond the band's current level of talent. In the end, I felt that the group was less of a band and more of a guitarist with some accompaniment. I still enjoyed myself as I listened to their music, but felt their was an amateur feel to their presentation.
Dimitri's Ascent got started in the back room, and I settled in to find out what they were all about. Hailing from Austin, a city with one of the best musical reputations in the nation, I had only two expectations; that the band was talented and weird. Dan Kruger started in on a funky key riff alone before the band slowly built the sound around him. Kruger's playing was enthusiastic bordering on spastic, but filled the band with more than enough energy to keep the crowd interested. His playing was confident, entertaining, and jovial. He sported a paper eye patch with an eye drawn on in pen through most of the show. Guitarist Kenneth Broussard's playing bounced between creative licks and nonsensical noodling, but rode several of the jams to well executed climaxes. Drummer Alan Eckert kept consistent rhythms and added the strongest vocals in the group. His upper register was on full display through the Bee Gee's "You Should Be Dancing." Through several different styles, Dimitri's Ascent was capable, if not polished. A highlight was the "Help On The Way> Slipknot> Franklin's Tower" which featured phrases from "Angel is a Centerfold." Bassist Brian Felker provided harmonies, but when he took to the role of lead vocalist, he needed to project more. Many of his lyrics were lost in a sea of sound. Overall, the band was onto something, but they still needed to refine their sound. Some of the music meandered, and was stereotypical of a generic jamband, while other parts seemed to connect and had the room dancing. The chops were there... perhaps a bit raw, but there none-the-less. Dimitri's Ascent were on the verge, teetering between local party band and nationally touring act. They had a good foundation to transcend their Texas trappings, but needed a little more experience to be considered a legitimate player in the jamband world in my opinion. But that's ok, the word "ascent" is a noun referring to a climb, and perhaps this is just the beginning of Dimitri's Ascent.