Lake Trout | 08.06.06

What was undoubtedly the best aspect of this 75-minute-long show was how the beginning of each song felt like embarking on a new and unknown adventure.

 

Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, St. Louis

Prior to this show, my only knowledge of the Baltimore five-piece known as Lake Trout was knowing how much a friend of mine loved them, which inspired me to recently borrow their 1998 Volume for the Rest of It from another friend. Sounding like a cross between Medeski, Martin and Wood and Soul Coughing, the disc didn't overly impress me, but it did contain enough intriguing qualities which piqued my interest in catching the band in a live performance setting. Little did I know, however, that the Lake Trout of today sounds almost nothing like the Lake Trout of 1998.

Apparently what was once a group that resided in the "good band with a decent amount of potential to become better" category about eight years ago has since elevated itself quite a few notches up to the "completely awesome band who has reached, and somehow slightly surpassed, its potential" level.

Besides a Lollapalooza after-party club gig in Chicago a few nights before, this show was Lake Trout's first headlining show in some time. They just came off an opening tour for Editors which, musically speaking, was a strange pairing, to say the very least. They would be much more appropriate opening up for bands like Sigúr Rös or Mogwai, whose music is similarly-styled to theirs: spacey, hypnotic, electronic-based rock

Drawing from other influences, Lake Trout's sound is also steeped with the finest qualities of electronic-savvy rock bands such as Gomez, Placebo, and Ween, along with a dash of Middle Eastern-styled instrumentation, effectively blending each component together into a deliciously captivating musical stew.

Equipped with a nice array of special effects pedals and panels, each member was able to take his instrument, as well as the sparingly used vocals, to very unusual and intriguing places without ever slightly overpowering or drowning out any of the other members. That even included the all-too-often-overpowered instrument: the keyboards.

Lake Trout's songs are multi-segmented without being overly drawn-out, and were filled with enough variety and diversity to prevent them from becoming repetitious. Besides some very cool lights, visual highlights of this show included the funny, robot-like body movements of the bass player, and the release of white smoke, hair-metal band style, near the end of the set.

But what was undoubtedly the best aspect of this 75-minute-long show was how the beginning of each song felt like embarking on a new and unknown adventure: you didn't know exactly which particular stylistic path the song was going to take you down, but you did know that it was going to be one heck of an enjoyable ride. If I had a best-of -the-year category for exceeding expectations, this would be at the top of that list.

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