Twiddling thumbs, and more
Last Friday night, Pearl Street was popping. Numerous characters hopped in and out of bars throughout the night, taking advantage of Holiday drink specials and live acts. At Jillian’s, local blues veterans Sly Fox and the Hustlers opened up for emerging Vermont-based jam and funk band Twiddle.
Sly Fox had the slowly growing crowd mildly moving to their original songs but when they covered Jimi Hendrix’s “Stone Free” and a funky version of a James Brown song, familiarity provoked the dancing shoes to begin twist and shuffle.
Not long after eleven, the Killer from the Scream trilogies, a pirate-complete with red and white stripped cut-off pants and a Peter Pan hat, and two gentlemen dressed in flashy, glittery, and eccentric clothing started tuning their instruments. Without any prior knowledge, these characters could have just been seen as young hooligans, but their riffs and beats while just tuning and setting up justified their youthful talent.
Twiddle, hailing from Castelton, Vermont, when not in Halloween garb, can be recognized by Mihali Savoulidis on guitar, Ryan Dempsey on keys (key-tar, Kao-scillator, Korg and Borg), Zdenek Gubb on bass, and Brook Jordan on drums. They tour relentlessly in the Northeast, hitting local venues all over the Northeast four or five times a year in order to please and appease their highly devoted fans.
The headliners, Twiddle, began with a beautifully calmed jam called “Atlantic Mocean”, something to get the crowd moving, a muscle warm-up, if you will. After ten minutes of intricate arrangments packed with exploding and dense bass lines fluttering, perfect drumbeats and combinations, one guitar string snaps. Savoulidis receives a new guitar and while tuning, the rest of the band tweek around with their instruments, showcasing their perplexing impromptu chemistry. After about a minute of keys battling drums battling bass lines Savoulidis re-enters the equation and they playfully jam for a minute or two then seamlessly transition into their next complex live experiment.
Textbook principles of jazz theory mixed with the up-beat head-bopping force of funk were showcased through the structure or, seemingly, the lack-of-structure of jam music. For instance, the first song, an original lasting about ten minutes fused into a cover of the Phish song “Heavy Things” into a sped-up and funked-up cover of Animal Liberation Orchestra’s “BBQ”, all culminating into a return to “Atlantic Mocean”. That combination was a fraction of the show and only minimalizes the complexity involved in the arrangements and their flawless execution.
Fresh off the release of their second studio album, “Somewhere On the Mountain” which was entirely funded by a kickstart program in which fans donate money amounts and in return receive free merch, tickets to shows, and in some cases the ability to choose a setlist complete with one new cover song. Confindently, I can say that the set list that, upon completion, was folded up into an airplane and thrown into the crowd was one the band created. The songs scribbled in two columns were nearly guidelines, some songs weren’t included into the performance, and some songs snuck in due to requests from the crowd and reflections of the energy level of the crowd.
These guys killed it. Their live performance can only be summed up by experiencing it. Regardless of your musical taste, check these guys out. They’re young, brilliant, and will keep you dancing longer than you thought you could. Once experienced, you wont hesitate to wonder why they call themselves Twiddle.