Beating the odds: Stumbling into enjoyment

Friday, February 18

Though my intentions were to see local soul-masters The Hamiltons perform at Starr Hill's cocktail lounge Saturday night, my inability to locate a seat in the packed venue led me down Main Street, where the west wind blew me into Orbit for a performance from Lagerhythm, a Lynchburg-based band I was unfamiliar with.

Though The Hamiltons are dear to my musical heart, Lagerhythm was a great salve for my sore ventricles, four impressive instrumentalists with a tight "band of brothers" sound. Composed of lead and rhythm guitarists, a bassist, and a rugby-shirted drummer, the quartet could have been mistaken for residents of nearby posh Rugby Road until they took the stage.

Though the group were performing an instrumental jam (not my favorite genre) when I arrived, I was struck by the "wall of sound" emanating from the corner at Orbit. The place was dim except for the red-green-blue light array that pulsed with the group's songs, most likely not under human control but never seeming to match the music, either.

During this first introductory instrumental tune, I listened to each performer in turn with an ear to understanding what role they played in the greater impressive sonic goulash. The Who-shirted bassist locked in with the drummer like a Siamese twin, the two of them walking around the fret-board with consummate ease. The rhythm guitarist mostly stuck to his assigned role, adding some flourishes here and there.

Most impressive was the lead guitarist, who seemed to have extensive schooling in rock classics (more on that later), never shredding too much, but going from weeping segments to high-velocity graceful wailing.

Pink Floyd's "Time" was up next, a song the group seemed ready-made to cover. Taking the lead vocal role, the rhythm guitarist belted out the lines in a voice that nearly matched the well-worn original, while the bassist seemed to go beyond the classic tune in instrumental voyaging.

"Time's" vast instrumental passages also allowed Lagerhythm to shine, breaking away from the original with a sound that seemed bigger than the tune's Spartan nature. Without dropping a beat, they then broke into Hendrix's "Fire," but rendering a very up-tempo version with seemingly constant guitar soloing, though this soloing seemed to perfectly match the original on the most well-known passages.

Their performance of the Black Crowes' "Remedy" did show that they had a way with cover tunes, but their originals, interspersed throughout the set, were also strong.

I'm always surprised when I chance upon a new act that can hold my interest long after the reviewing part of the evening is over. Lagerhythm did just that.