Aloha – Rochester – Drama House @ The University of Rochester, NY – 2002-02-16

Where: Rochester – Drama House @ The University of Rochester, NY.

When: 2002-02-16

About half the people who ended up at the Drama House – basically a fraternity-type house for students into drama and theater – were at the location where this show was supposed to take place. Luckily, I went with someone who went to school at Rochester and knew how to get to see the bands. Still, we were a little late, and we missed the opening band, if there was one. But we came in just at the beginning of Aloha’s set, so there were no problems there.

Aloha is a strange band. Basically a unique rock trio, Aloha also has a fourth player who wails away on vibraphone for each and every song. On the album, the vibraphone is a nice, light tone that helps to compliment the songs. Basically, I see it as taking the place of the keyboard that everyone finds so necessary these days. But live, when the guitar-bass-drum combination has more power and volume, the vibraphone was nothing more than a distraction.

Once I stopped paying attention to those light tones coming from the fourth band member, I was very impressed with Aloha. The guitarist doesn’t take too many chances, but the bass and drums are phenomenal, playing very intricate rhythms that really drive this band. And the singer’s unique voice really adds to the band’s sound. One song, the bass player screamed away from the mic, just barely audible for a very interesting and intense effect. In between songs, the band would jam, flowing from one song to the next without giving the fans a chance to really know when to clap, but it did keep the set flowing.

Dianogah, a three-piece Chicago math-rock band, can’t say the same. The frontman – only called so because he was the one who talked – didn’t bother with the mic. The room was quiet enough between songs that he chatted with the fans, even asking for questions and telling stories while the second bass player changed a string. That’s the most unique thing about Dianogah – their two four-string bass players. One would play lead – often playing the bass as a guitar and even once playing it with a pad lock – and the other would play the more typical bass lines. Along with intricate, mathy percussion, the instrumental band plays some very nice, flowing, deep-toned songs.

The problem with Dianogah, especially in a live setting, is that their songs basically all start to sound the same. Occasionally they’d speed up a bit or slow down, but for the most part they keep the same mid-level tempo, plodding along. Any similar band as this – and Volta Do Mar springs to mind – works on repetition, but live the repetition gets very old, while Volta Do Mar and other instrumental bands tend to spice things up a bit.

That’s not to say Dianogah wasn’t fun to hear live. They’re a good band, and they had a connection with the audience that Aloha lacked. Overall, it was a nice pairing of two mid-tempo bands we could enjoy without too much thrashing or obnoxious people. That came later, when we went to the local bar the Bug Jar where we were just in time to catch two of the worst metal bands I was ever subjected to. Still, the beer was good, and it capped a fun night.