The 8×10, Baltimore, MD
September 18, 2015
If you’ve read any of my recent reviews, you will know that I have truly fallen in love with the Baltimore live music scene, but nothing that I have seen so far has come even close to the vibe that Baltimore natives ELM (Electric Love Machine) have spawned. The band to crowd relationship is one of respect, love, friendship and family, and it definitely goes both ways. More recently, ELM has been on the move throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, sharing the stage with the likes of EOTO, Papadosio, Dopapod, TAUK, Turkuaz, Electron, and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and playing multiple sets at festivals such as All Good Music Festival, The Mad Tea Party, Moonrise, Camp Barefoot, The Werk Out, Domefest, and Lunar Bay. On Friday, September 18, the band made its way back to Baltimore, joined by Connecticut trio lespecial at The 8×10 for an epic night of psychedelic, interstellar jams.
lespecial started off the evening with some serious heat, working through funky, experimental grooves. The 8×10 gradually filled in as the early arrivals warmed up their dancin’ shoes. I am new to this area of the country, but I had heard good things about lespecial. Still, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. After my first live ex
perience with the band, I can honestly say that I have emerged enlightened. A power trio in the jam world is rare, but these guys bring the noise, representing every meaning of the term and reaching into every corner of every genre possible. I hope to catch them again as they embark on a Fall Tour throughout the Northeast, as well as their return to Baltimore in early December!
ELM wasted absolutely no time diving into the epic journey of “Visions,” with tantalizing vocals, swirling synths and massive builds. “Opus 89” followed with a deceptively beautiful intro, led by keyboardist Jon Brady, followed by a deep, floor shaking synth groove. “Cerulean Sun” brought more of a laid back rock groove as lead vocalist and guitarist Jon Wood branched out with some insanely high notes, and the band went into a euphoric, spaced out jam. ELM had many nice surprises for their home town of Baltimore, beginning with “Cerulean Sun” giving way to a beautiful cover of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter.” After a minimalistic guitar solo from Wood, the band ended the classic tune powerfully and moved right into a quick but emotional version of “Free” by Phish. Swelling synths, deep bass and funky guitar made up the first time ever played “Tron’s Legacy,” which led into a raging double-time bridge, bringing the energy to a soaring apex. The fast-paced “Oceans” kept the energy up and the crowd in the clouds, as drummer Steve Gorsuch held down a tight groove, never letting up for a second. The first set ended on a passionate power ballad entitled “Tomorrow Knows,” leaving a sold out crowd whirring and buzzing and clamoring for more.
The band took the stage for a second set and came right out of the gate with pure funk in “Dance Floor Politics.” The jam that followed started off soft and angelic but took a dissonant turn into mind wrenching guitar, before resolving into a gorgeous climax. Another live debut followed with the brand new tune “Parallels,” more of a straight ahead rock tune for the most part, but with an unmistakable ELM flare (including a bridge that made me feel like I was in a Nintendo game). Dreamy synths led the intro into “Dancing In The Light,” which included an absolutely stunning cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes” sandwiched in the middle and ended in a euphoric wave of pure energy. And then, the real rage time was upon us. “Binary Soul” is impossible not to dance to. Wood and Brady’s strategic synth and guitar spurts intertwine beautifully with the vocals and bass, while in between verses, they form an impregnable duet. The half time bridge soared under Wood’s shredding guitar solo, and the entire band raged all the way through to the end. The crowd roared as the opening notes of Lotus’ “Hammerstrike” represented another live debut for the band, and ELM did it justice, bringing a funky dance groove in full force. The second set ended with what can only be described as an aural saga. “Electrotica” brought all of the elements together and basically summed up the night in one epic jam, leaving the crowd in a frenzy. The band came out for one more live debut as an encore, rocking out a beautiful version of Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets.”
What an incredible night of music! I am so happy to be a part of the music scene out here, and the love, respect and community that ELM has formed around their music is immeasurable. There is so much love among the fans, between each other, between them and the band, and most of all, for the music itself. While this was only my second ELM show, I hope there will be many more as the quartet continues to grow and work their way up in the world. Based on what I have seen, they should be extremely proud of the legacy they have already built, and this particular show at The 8×10 was a prime example. Keep your eyes out for more from ELM. They seem like they are still hungry and ready to take on the world!
Review & Photos by Randy Harris (Ragin’ Randy Entertainment)