A Lot Like Birds



A chance text message from the new Entertainment Editor… “Hey, wanna check out the 1078 show on Sunday?”

I almost didn’t.

But I’m glad I did.

I walked up to the venue doors to the familiar sounds of one of my favorite bands in Chico.

“I know this song!” I thought. Sure enough, Strange Habits was doing what they do best: throwing down sick licks and rocking out hard. The band has been growing since their first appearance in Chico. Their singer, Eric McGuire, moving from bass to vocals, along with the addition of Brett Daniel on bass, has tightened the groups sound. What caught my attention this set was not only the new material from their soon-to-be-released album, but all the bright, flashy lights which added a whole new ambiance to the performance. Drummer Sheel Doshi spent the better part of his weekend programming the light show synchronized to their music. He didn’t miss a beat. Literally. The lights were tasteful, not overbearing, and meshed perfectly with the band’s style. Slick melodies and crushing guitar leads from Eric McCauley add an extra oomph to the quasi-political message delivered by McGuire.

After Strange Habits was Stolas, an Indie Prog-Rock band on tour with A Lot Like Birds. Their high-energy, wall-of-sound style got the crowd going. Their dynamic use of effects transitioned from mellow and soaring, to hard and heavy, instantly. Fuzz and hair were flying throughout their set. During their last song, members of the other touring bands TP’ed the group, wrapping members in toilet paper while they played. It showed the bands chops however. None of them missed a note during the shenanigans.

That was only the beginning of the hijinx. Sianvar, self-described as coming from “Allover, CA” were pranked during their eclectic set as well. After melting the crowd with gut-busting screaming effects and shredding guitar riffs, which melted into echoing vocals and rhythmic breakdowns, the guitar players from the other bands all grabbed their axes and mime-rocked during the final breakdown. There were about ten guitars on stage at once, with everyone throwing themselves around. The utter chaos was only magnified by the band’s jaunting changeups and meaty sound.

Not even A Lot Like Birds was safe from the madness. They fell victim to the single greatest tour gag I’ve ever witnessed. During the last song, everyone on tour came out and started beating the band with pillows while they played. Then, as A Lot Like Birds faded into one of their melodic breakdowns, everyone lied down and pretended to sleep… Only to spring back up alongside the tempo and continue beating the band senseless. Even through all this, the band played in synch: Their spastic transitions and time changes continued unhindered. At one moment the whole crowd was pulsing with syncopated rhythm. A moment later, they were all swaying in harmony—joyous, peaceful harmony—only to be swept back into the jolting chaos that is metal once more.

The abyss is calling.

Don’t be afraid, jump in. You might even like it.

It beat the hell out of the Super-Bowl.

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Tommy Diestel can't remember life without music and writing. He began writing for the Synthesis at the ripe age of 19, and aspires to be a life-long writer.