Earlier this April, The Octopus Project released their latest studio album Memory Mirror and commenced their April tour which stopped at The Bootleg this last Wednesday. For the St. Louis stop, the group called upon local friends So Many Dynamos to open the show, as well as Made-Up. As the doors opened there was already a line of eager fans waiting to get inside. With such a solid lineup there was no issue filling the room.
Opening up the evening was local duo Made-Up, composed of Kristin M Dennis and Kimber Hall. You might remember Kristin as the drummer from Joan of Dark who played at the Schlafly Tap Room earlier this year. She ditches her spot in the background to take center stage as the lead singer of Made-Up. The group is centered in an Indie Synth-Pop vibe but by no means limits themselves to the genre. Made-Up is self-described as “glittering pop music with a heart of coal”.
Their songs are short and sweet but pack a punch leaving it hard to sit still. The group is perfectly crafted down to synchronized choreography to go with each song. Kristin’s vocals are reminiscent of groups like Tegan and Sara with a powerful yet sultry tone overall. Her enchanting voice juxtaposes perfectly against the unrefined techno beats. Kimber supports in the background with perfect comedic timing, often delivering her parts via whispers or vocal sound effects.
The chemistry between the two makes for a perfect creative collaboration. Half way through their performance, their costumes lit up and brought an extra level of theatrics. Their outfits were just as interesting as their music. Dennis and Hall donned giant hoop skirts suspended by dowel rods, materials which they revealed were purchased on Amazon Prime. The duo would happily spin around in their elaborate sculptures, enjoying them just as much as the crowd was.
If you’ve been around the music scene in St. Louis you’ve probably heard of So Many Dynamos on more than one occasion. The group is made up of Aaron Stovall (Vocals/Keys/Percussion/Guitar), Clayton Kunstel (Drums/Percussion/Keys), Nathan Bernaix (Guitar/Vocals/Keys/Percussion), Stephen Inman (Guitars/Keys/Percussion/ Vocals), and Alison Arida (Drumkat/Percussion/Vocals). They’ve been playing together for over decade with their debut in 2003. If you like bands like Hot Hot Heat, Yeasayer and Architecture in Helsinki you will really appreciate what So Many Dynamos has to offer.
So Many Dynamos manages to be extremely multilayered and chaotic, but with an astute care for synchronization. While the influence from The Talking Heads can be heard throughout, Stovall is a spot on David Byrne. Their heavily percussive base is built upon by a retro synth sound makes them totally transcendent. At one point the band even threw out a Devo cover that perfectly with the rest of their set. If you’ve never seen them live you really need to look out for their next show. So Many Dynamos greatly reflects a lot of the nuances of the Sound of St. Louis. Until then you can find their latest album Safe With Sound on both iTunes and Bandcamp which was self-released back in 2015.
After a primer of some amazing local talent, The Octopus Project finally took to the stage. The Octopus Project has been together for nearly two decades of music making with their official album debut in 2002. Since their debut the band has played alongside musical greats such as Devo and Explosions in the Sky. Hailing from Austin Texas, the experimental electronica group is composed of Josh Lambert (Guitar/Bass/Keys), Toto Miranda (Drums/Guitar/Bass), Yvonne Lambert (Samplers/Keyboards/Theremin /Glockenspiel/Guitar), and Lauren Gurgiolo (Guitar). Each member moves around the stage and plays different instruments throughout the performance, a true testament to the raw musical talent in the group.
Yvonne functions as the frontwoman for the group, donning a space age metallic mini dress and signature retro hairstyle. Her cool image is quickly overshadowed by her musical ability, whether it is the graceful playing of her Theremin or her thrashing out on the guitar. As a recent addition, Gurgiolo adds an extra dose of girl power to the stage with her no frills guitar playing. The two on stage together have a lovely dynamic, flashing smiles back and forth all night long.
Longtime fans of The Octopus Project have grown accustomed to their ambient but cacophonous arrangements, but Memory Mirror takes a new approach with a more tailored and focused sound. While they still feature instrumentals on the album, there is much more of a focus on the lyrical qualities.
Regardless of the album they play from, The Octopus Project maintains a timeless sound with influences for various eras. Many of the tracks from Memory Mirror could easily be from decades past, but still somehow manage to be modern and contemporary. The Octopus Project is one of those bands whose music completely transforms when played live, as their individual performances bring an untouchable energy to the show. This energy was best captured when they played Truck from the popular album Hello Avalanche, which quickly got the fans excited within a few notes. The song ended with a dance floor performance which can be seen below (excuse the shakey camerawork for some amazing content):
Check out more photos from the show in our gallery below: