Marnie Stern, Tera Melos at the Echo: Live Review

Marnie Stern at the Echo
Marnie Stern at the Echo
Ivan Fernandez

Sacramento-based Math Rock group Tera Melos launched their first tour of the year at The Echo this past Friday night with the help of opening acts Power Axe and Marnie Stern.

I stepped into the venue as Power Axe closed up their set (thanks mainly to most So Cal drivers' terrible habit of forgetting their driving skills every time water falls from the sky) Judging from the applause and whistles that followed the end of their set, he bass-and-drum brother duo did an excellent job of warming the crowd up.

Marnie Stern and her band, bassist Nithin and drummer Vince, were up next and what followed was a set filled with the type of guitar-tapping insanity that would've scared the KFC bucket off Buckethead. The trio tore through songs from her latest album, a self-titled collection of restless tunes that highlight her distinct, guitar-tapping style characterized by the New Yorker as "chaotic and lumpy as it is mathematical."

Stern's fingers danced up and down her guitar's neck. She and Nithin filled the gap between songs with jokes about her lack of "sexual healing," a complaint also noted in the band's tour diary, The Vagina Monoblog, which chronicles their exploits on their Lawrence of A-Labia tour (notice a pattern?).

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Tera Melos then arrived to close out the night. Vocalist/guitarist Nick Reinhart, bassist Nathan Latona and drummer John Clardy took to the stage with an unnamed fourth member who provided the extra arms required for a backup guitar and keyboard. Reinhart cued the band with a simple "all right" and what followed was an explosive introduction into their set filled mostly with tunes from their second full-length album, Patagonian Rats, which they released last year through LA-based Sargent House.

Reinhart showed off his acrobatic skills as he sang, screamed and strummed his guitar while tap-dancing over two large boards that contained every guitar pedal known to man, without once missing a beat or note. The other members kept the pace as the quartet blasted its way through songs "Kelly," "Frozen Zoo," "The Skin Surf," "Westham United" and others.

TM slowed the set down at times with intervals of mellow funk from tracks like "Melody 9" before jarring the audience out of its relaxed state and hitting them with intricate beats, rhythms and solos all over again. It's as if The Fall of Troy and Minus The Bear where constantly fighting each other onstage for control of a crowd.

The night ended with calls for "ONE MORE SONG!" by the audience. Reinhart hopped back onto the stage and explained that "we literally don't have one more," which is a shame as 40 minutes with Tera Melos simply wasn't enough.

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