Tabla Beat Science performed at the House of Blues yesterday, and in the immortal words of my buddy Chein, they made me crap my pants.
They played a good mix of familiar songs off their albums, but they sounded so much fuller than I’ve ever heard them before. They had a keyboardists on stage with them doing some droney, chord shift-type stuff, and moreover, they’ve obviously developed their songs a bunch in the past few years. They’ve elaborated their compositions a bit more, and filled out their sound with more electronic details. They started their set with a few new jams, and they were HOT. The first started with just Sultan Khansahib playing his sarangi and singing, and the keyboardist droning out chords underneath him. Zakirji slowly came in on tabla, and Karsh Kale slowly came in on drums. They then went into their second new song, where Bill Laswell joined them on bass, and DJ Disk came out on his tables. It was a really mellow, stutter-type break beat, really heavy, groovy bass passionate chords and sarangi and tabla on top. If those two songs are signs of a second album, I can’t wait to hear what they’re putting together. My buddy Ajit came into town from Michigan for the show, and had to DRIVE BACK at like 11-11:30. So he knew he was going to have to leave in the middle of their set. After the second song, he said to me ‘that alone made this trip worth it.’
Sultan Khan and Zakir Hussain sounded GREAT. For this show, they were playing as part of a bigger band, and their sound was one aspect of the overall sound. So the focus wasn’t entirely on them; it wasn’t like they were the only two people on stage doing 100-minute classical composition. Zakirji fit into his pocket really nicely, and at a few point in the show, him, the DJ, and Karsh on drums did some call and response type stuff, that was pretty cool. At one point, too, Gigi—the ethiopian lead singer—and Zakirji went back and forth between her style of singing, and spoken tabla bols. Gigi was all embarrassed that she was battling with Zakir Hussain. Lol, hello.
Buckethead joined them on guitar for a song or two, and that sounded awesome. I saw him perform with Primus years ago, and I know he’s like a METAL guitarist. He showed real diversity in his style by melding into the sound of the band really well last night. He had some weird Tom Morello-type switch on his guitar that was cutting the sound in and out warping his pitch and tone in crazy ways, it was cool.
Overall, it was an amazing show.