Although I am no stranger to Grand Rapids, I had never attended a show at the Intersection until the Rothbury Pre-Party. There is no more appropriately named venue to host such a dynamic collaboration of talent. EOTO, Ultraviolet Hippopotamus and Herm Productions is quite the trio to kick off the Rothbury Music Festival. As I was walking into the venue I heard several people express their excitement for the night, I also heard a lot of people eager to be exposed to one or both of the bands. Only time would tell the magic of the night.
With the venue filling up and the beer lines still at a decent length the hometown heros Ultraviolet Hippopotamus took the stage to get the pre-party started. A strong "Run Rabbit Run" opened the set to start the night off right. Alex Schneider aka "Herm" of Herm Productions synched the music and lights to a T.
As the Uv Hippo set progressed the energy inside of the Intersection also heightened. The dance floor became a blanket of dancing bodies as Uv Hippo busted into Ying-Yang Jam, an electronic influenced jam which featured a Robot Rock jam. Keyboardist Dave Sanders showcased his lightning fast skills throughout his key rig during Ying-Yang. It appeared as though they were warmed up and ready to showcase their take on the Pink Floyd classic "Welcome to the Machine." Uv Hippo's version of "Machine" proved to match a fan's comment of "Welcome Untz the Machine."
Speculation of a guest appearance with Uv Hippo proved to be true. During "Cream Soda" Jason Hann and Michael Travis stepped on stage, Jason brought his djembe and Travis joined Casey Jones on percussion. The Cream Soda> Marine> Cream Soda sandwich was the first of two guest appearances that would take place throughout the night. This particular version of the Uv Hippo fan favorite is one for the record books. It felt as though the building's foundation could have broken loose at the frenzy going on both on stage and on the dance floor. Not only was there a smile on nearly every face in the crowd but also on each of the eight musicians faces. One knows a stellar set of music was performed when the band grooves along with the crowd.
After the intermission EOTO wasted no time keeping the party going with a bass heavy house beat once again the dance floor transformed into a sweaty sea of dancing bodies. As the womp began, I noticed Travis look across the stage at Jason with a grin spanning ear to ear. All that came to mind was the party isn't stopping for awhile. It occurred to me that this was the last EOTO performance before the long awaited String Cheese Incident reunion at Rothbury so the dance party was on.
The duo brought out Chicago/Northwest Indiana rapper BC for the second collaboration of the night. EOTO did what they do best by transitioning into a more hip-hop influenced beat for BC to flow his rhymes. As I looked around the crowd BC was accepted very well as the crowd continued to get down to the rappers rhymes. It appeared as though he brought a crew of his own as "Throw it down BC" rang through the crowd.
Travis made use of each of his instruments throughout the night bouncing from bass, hand percussion, guitar, electronics and vocal loops. Hann also utilized his whole drum kit and electronic pad to keep the crowd on their toes. Each time I see EOTO I am blown away at the range of beats, sounds and twists the two can create. This was the first time Herm had ever done lights for EOTO and he was on fire. Doing lights for an all improvised group is a heavy task in which the young lighting designer tackled with ease. There was also live painting during the EOTO set by artist Jennae Bennett. Bennet's artwork was accented very well by EOTO's music and Herm's lights.
The latter part of EOTO's set consisted of a second appearance by BC in which EOTO transitioned into a dub-influenced beat that received cheers and hollers from the crowd. They also payed homage to Phish with a First Tube tease. EOTO closed out their set with a slow progressive house influenced beat.
As the show came to a close shouts of "keep it going" and "encore" rang throughout the venue. The Rothbury Pre-Party was a success and only a precursor to what the weekend would hold.
Ultraviolet Hippopotamus is:
Russell James: Guitar/Vocals
Joe Phillion: Drums
Casey Jones: Percussion
Dave Sanders: Keyboards/Vocals
Michael Travis: Everything
Jason Hann: Drums
Ultraviolet Hippopotamus Setlist:
Run Rabbit Run>
Ying Yang Jam>*
Welcome To The Machine
Bob The Wonder Cat
* Robot Rock Jam (Daft Punk)
$ Featuring Michael Travis and Jason Hann of EOTO