Like everybody about my age, I miss MTV. Specifically I miss MTV the way it was in the early to mid ’90s, when the channel’s schedule consisted mostly of hours-long music-video blocks, not segregated by genre — the Toadies followed by Tupac followed by Metallica. I bring that up as an introduction to Egshan not to set up a bunch of insulting comparisons to Top 40 relics a decade past relevancy. Egshan take some definite cues from that era — the sanitized, radio-friendly snarl of pre-Creed post-grunge, alt-rock incorporating hip-hop and reggae influences a la Sublime or 311. But they have their own sound, one that seems equally inspired by ’70s psychedelia: Egshan covers Pink Floyd’s “Wot’s... Uh the Deal?” an Obscured by Clouds track even the Floyd didn’t play live. The real reason Egshan makes me miss MTV is they mostly play the sort of catchy polished rock that begs for a four-minute slot between Kurt Loder and Kennedy.
“All right,” vocalist-keyboardist-guitarist Nicholas “Nick Shan” Pacheo says before the swirling keyboard-and-bass groove from opener “SIOS” has had time to fade. “Here we go, here we go.” “EPOD” is more upbeat, but only in the sense of tempo. Pacheo’s lyrics describe a friend’s descent into drug-fueled paranoia. “The party never ends,” Nick Shan says, “until you're dead.” Each line is punctuated by Rickey “Rick Shan” Pacheo’s strikingly stark bass line.
“Play some metal!” some guy in the crowd demands. “Let’s fucking drink,” Nick Shan retorts and switches from keyboard to guitar. And “Hard Nights,” whose subject downs a fifth of Jack — after wrapping his car around a tree and walking to the bar, mind you — is a suitable soundtrack to pickle your liver by, and it offers some decent bar-hopping advice, such as “when you see the cops, slow down” and “if you hesitate, then you masturbate” to go along with its crunchy guitar riffs and depressant-fueled self-loathing. “Darkest Hour,” with its catchy “rat in a may-yay-aze” earworm gets the crowd shouting along, and its high notes give Nick Shan an opportunity to display some real vocal range. Rasta-tinged “Mary Jane” brings the Hooligan Boyz’s M.I.G. onstage for an unabashedly juvenile love note to a girl who’s into “eating and watching the tube” but local law enforcement keeps taking her away, for some reason. Maybe it’s because she’s got “purple hair” and goes around covered in crystals. Your guess is as good as mine on this one, folks.
You’ll have to take my word for it, however, when I say the final few songs the band plays after Mojoe’s Treson Scipio gets on the keyboard deserve retroactive placement in my list of 2009’s best Live & Local moments (see “Lighters out,” November 18, for the rest), because the rest of the set from that point is improvised.
“How many of y’all like soul music?” Scipio asks, and it’s a shame if there’s anyone in the audience who doesn’t. The jam the band launches into is an awesome piece of music — conceived on the spot or not — playing to everyone’s considerable strengths. Scipio pours layers of sweet, smooth vocals and complementary keys over Nick Shan’s acidic guitar solos and Rick Shan’s funk thumping. Robert “Rob Shan” Luna, who’s been dependable but rarely flashy behind the kit, gets the chance to really beat the shit out of those drums, but it all feels too loose and in-the-moment to seem like showing off. That looseness leads to a gradual unwinding, but the band fades out before things get too avant-garde or self-indulgent. More of Mary Jane’s lovers should be so considerate. — Jeremy Martin