It takes a lot of thunder to blitz a pair of ears in 45 minutes.
And Warm Gadget is a massive, violent storm front that rolls in quick, does its damage, and moves out before you even have a chance to run for cover.
That's what it felt like Feb. 25 when the Gadget, a local quartet that's eased into the Bend music scene over the past several months, played a short set at Silver Moon Brewing & Taproom.
The atmosphere in the pub felt a bit like a secret show. It wasn't. It was just booked last-minute and hastily promoted, so the crowd was modest in size, but full of familiar faces from across Bend's left-of-center rock scene. In other words, I saw plenty of folks there who prefer their music flavored with weird.
Warm Gadget gave them what they wanted, though I must admit, the band wasn't quite as out there as I expected them to be. The songs on their MySpace — www.myspace .com/warmgadget7 — are creepy, industrial, electro-fuzz-rock blasts that are, generally speaking, slightly more beat-driven than riff-driven.
Live, those beats and electronic textures are certainly perceptible, but they don't play as much of a role in the band's sound as they do on recordings. Live, Warm Gadget is a sludgehammer, pummeling anything in its path with its aural assault.
It's a four-pronged attack. Drummer Jared Forqueran is a machine behind the kit, of course. Eric Metzger's bass lines are deep and powerful enough to register on a Richter scale. And Colten Williams spent his evening strangling his guitar for sounds so sharp you could probably trim hedges with 'em.
And then there's frontman Tim Vester, the former Kronkmen vocalist who wore a priest's clerical collar for the gig. Vester's style is equal parts abrasive and magnetic, like the scrape of metal on metal chased with a spoonful of sugar.
He's fun to watch, but he'll never win “American Idol,” unless they have “American Idol” in purgatory. Then he has a shot.
Warm Gadget only played for about 45 minutes, blasting their way through one bruising tune after another and filling the space between with programmed samples and sounds. Those breaks seemed to confuse the audience; it's hard to know when to clap when you're not sure if the song is over or not.
But the breaks also provided time for the band to attend to other things, such as re-tuning, opening the windows to cool down the bar, or, in one case, for Vester to leave the stage completely and get another drink.
They also provided a soundbed for the songs. The alternately caustic and glitchy grind of “Pain By Numbers” drowns out an odd spoken-word sample of some guy talking about “when police arrived.” Other songs, such as “Twisted” and “Witch Hunt,” seem like soundtracks to the march of some menacing droid with an evil heart and mercury coursing through its veins. And “Creapy On The Inside” follows a militant guitar riff and a sandstorm of noise that envelops Vester's vocals, giving the whole thing a very claustrophobic feel. So far, it's my favorite of Warm Gadget's tunes.
When all was said and done, I wanted a little bit more, which is how it should be. Alas, the band is still building its repertoire (and, perhaps, values brevity), and the end of the set really was the end of the set. I crossed Greenwood Avenue and hopped into my car, where the self-titled EP by local pop-punkers Tuck and Roll was already in the CD player.
As I drove home, I swear I was hearing those songs in new ways, discovering formerly obscured notes and melodies. It was as if Warm Gadget rearranged how my ears work and reshuffled my brain, opening them to a previously uncharted world of sounds.
It was weird. And weird is good.