Kylesa | 06.01.11

Corey Barhorst moved about the stage like a man on fire, often commanding most of my attention as I was certain he would leap from the stage and begin playing amidst the crowd.

 

 

 

The Firebird, St. Louis

For such soft-spoken individuals, prog rock juggernauts Kylesa perform as though they are sounding the alarms for the end of the world. It’s not just their sound that draws attention to the band, but the way in which these Savannah, GA, natives play with fluidity and precision, making each and every chord and beat stand out. To watch Kylesa is like watching the musical equivalent of a heavyweight boxer hit the punching bag for an hour straight without rest.

With that being said, the group’s recent performance at the Firebird was nothing to scoff at, offering up a fierce setlist of both new and old tracks that received a rousing ovation from the crowd at the close of every song. The band quickly jumped into their set with a couple of new tracks (“Tired Climb,” “Cheating Synergy,” and “Don’t Look Back”) from the band’s latest release, Spiral Shadow. Showing their guitar chops, guitarists and vocalists Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants unleashed a bevy of well-structured solos and riffs that instantly had the crowd collectively bobbing their heads and stomping their feet. Wasting little time between songs, Cope merely thanked those in attendance for coming to the Wednesday night show before jumping into another surge of older songs, including “Scapegoat,” “Insomnia for Months,” and “Between Silence and Sound.”

Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of Kylesa’s live show is the amount of instrumentation each member is responsible for during any given song. If not singing and playing guitar, Cope is feverishly playing his own set of toms or delivering eerie tones from a small keyboard and sampler. Bassist and keyboard player Corey Barhorst moved about the stage like a man on fire, often commanding most of my attention as I was certain he would leap from the stage and begin playing amidst the crowd. Pleasants’ mezzo-soprano vocals are a nice shift from male-dominated vocals in any genre of music and accent the beauty of Kylesa’s music quite well.

As if all of the talent at the front of the stage wasn’t enough, throw two drummers into the mix and you have another dimension of rock that astounds. Each often acting as though the other did not exist, percussionists Carl McGinley and Tyler Newberry worked in tandem to drive the band’s sound. Side-by-side, both drummers performed just as fast as Kylesa’s front talent, occasionally taking center stage during the band’s more percussion-driven, older songs.

Wrapping up their hour-and-a-half set with a brief encore consisting of a mix of instrumental fury and haunting guitars, Kylesa left the audience humming about the show’s intensity. Taking only a few minutes to themselves after the set, the band also returned to talk with fans and share a drink. The group will be touring the U.S. again this fall, and I can only suggest (strongly) that you make the effort to check out one of the best overall prog rock groups playing today. | Joe Witthaus

 

     

 

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