Druggist rocks the roof off ArtPace

Last Friday, the art-rock band Druggist, along with Marcus Rubio and the Gospel Choir of Pillows, put on a free concert on the roof of ArtPace as part of artist Richie Budd's residency. (Be on the lookout for the Current's article on Budd and his amazing multi-media creations, which'll hit stands this Wednesday.) I regrettably did not BMOB, but the concert was sufficient enough to give me a healthy buzz (on second thought, that could have been from inhaling the smoke from the fog machine, I don't know).

To any ArtPace staff that might stumble upon this blog on their way to better, more frequently-updated blogs: When's the next show going to be? Seriously, The ArtPace roof has inserted itself near the top of my list of favorite music venues. The Witte does Second Sunday Jazz â?? what about ArtPace City Limits? ArtaPacelooza? (I'm buying those domain names, just in case I'm on to something.)

And what a pair of bands to showcase â?? Druggist and MRATGCOP both shun conventional rock formulas and aren't afraid to indulge their weirder impulses â?? but their quirks never overshadow their strong melodies and the complete sincerity each group offers to their audience.

Rubio's music is both sprawling and poppy, and has finally found some swagger with his new, paired-down Gospel Choir built around the top-notch rhythm section of Mason Macias on drums and Jackson Albrecht on bass. Rubio's new tunes seem to be a substantial leap in musical maturity from his last record, having internalized his more obvious touchstones (Wilco, Islands) to the point that the references don't announce themselves as much as they did before â?? instead, they gel into a larger sound that is more and more distinctly Rubio's. I didn't catch many song titles, but many of them were about whales or whale-related situations. It'll be huge, I promise.

Similarly, Druggist has morphed into a juggernaut that oozes rock-star power, and their set was lively, energetic, and tight, shifting from grungy anthems like "Hold On Son" to the guitar-pomp of "I Don't Believe You" with ease and conviction. While there may have been several line-up changes around the core duo of Blake Cormier and Zach Dunlap (who trade singing and writing duties), the current group (featuring Rubio and Macias again) sounds skilled enough to keep up with whatever ideas Cormier and Dunlap cook up. Druggist has a new album due in 2009, The Pile On, and they mentioned a CD release party at Limelight in January. It will also be huge. (Promise.)

Budd played the role of "man behind the curtain," controlling the strobe lights, bubble and fog machines, turning the roof of ArtPace into a magical, smoke-filled LSD-fantasy. It was just like when The Beatles performed on the roof of Apple Studios only with more bubbles and silly string.

More pictures after the jump. And stay tuned for the next installment of ArtPace-achella. (Hopefully.)


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