Artist: Wei Zhongle
Recorded at The Cavern Bar, August 23, 2015.Wei Zhongle - Pledge
I'd heard from friends who had been that The Cavern Bar had an unusual vibe for a gig, and this first visit confirmed that. Off the usual music venue grid on Church Street, the basement room is as much a watering hole for patrons of the hostel above as a destination for music seekers, leading to some random interactions and moments of bands playing to as many blissfully indifferent patrons as folks there for the show. In proper art rock fashion, there were plenty of signifiers to unpack in this Chicago group's métier — starting with their relationship to the virtuoso of traditional Chinese instruments from whom they have taken their name. There are definite Far Eastern influences to be teased out from their music, giving a grounding to what sometimes might otherwise come off as precious herky-jerky rhythms and a penchant for keening chant-singing in Rob Jacobs' vocals. John McCowen's clarinet also contributed to the music's thin'n'reedy sound. Nominally a trio, they were touring with a bassist, which alongside Sam Klickner's drum work grounded the music in rock'n'roll. Mixed together, the music mostly emerged as a sort of off-kilter (but self-aware) new wave.