Following the critical success of ‘X’d Out’, drugstore Tera Melos returned to Dublin as part of their 2014 European Winter tour. Supported by Turning Down Sex and Simon Bird, those in the door early enough to catch the opening acts were in for a treat. Turning Down Sex had the unenviable task of opening to a crowd of roughly 15 people. However; as this was a math rock show, those in attendance were more than hospitable to the guitar driven sounds of the opening act. After a few audio-visual related hiccups with setting up, Simon Bird took the stage for a more chilled out, ambient electronic opener. The juxtaposition between the two opening acts, with such different conflicting styles, was decidedly bizarre, but it was refreshing to see two varied opening acts who were certainly not merely lesser versions of the headlining act.
For those uninitiated to math rock, the cacophony of guitar, drums and bass would certainly strike them as confusing and alienating. Like jazz before it, math rock can best be summed up with the phrase “it takes a few listens.” Almost Joycean in composition, the best math rock songs are dense, complex and approachable on several levels. You can listen to a track repeatedly without ‘getting it,’ until something clicks and suddenly it’s your favourite song. Like post-modern art and beat poetry, math rock is wide open to accusations of pretension – the guitar work doesn’t seem to make any sense at first which could suggest that this wild collection of noises is being made up as the band goes along. This would be unfair to the artists, however, as another defining trait of math rock is how ornate and precise the music really is.
It is commonly the case that the first few dates of an international tour are lacklustre; with jet lag, fatigue and the need to adapt to an enormously different climate and culture dominating. “We haven’t gotten fully settled in yet,” guitarist Nick Reinhart told me before the band went on, “I caught a stomach thing like yesterday. So that ain’t good.” This didn’t appear to be the case with Tera Melos however; as they launched into a tight version of ‘Weird Circles’ – a crowd pleasing highlight from the latest album. What followed can only loosely be described as a transcendent foray into effects pedal driven, well regimented chaos. The setlist, as was to be expected, was populated mostly by songs from the latest offering, with due diligence paid to the band’s older tracks. An unmistakable highlight of the show was Reinhart tapping out an impromptu cover of the Simpson’s theme song during a completely different song.
As the venue lacked the appropriate size for any encore tease chicanery, Reinhart levelled with the crowd: “Alright, we’re gonna do two more songs. Except that’s a lie because one of those songs is actually two songs.” After such a high energy gig; the band admirably stuck around to hang out with the crowd. Catch them if you can.
Coire Mc Crystall