The Aristocrats have recently released their third studio album Tres Caballeros and played Irving Plaza on August 8th in support of their new release. Their album once again so tastefully pushes the envelope of the fusion/instrumental genre. On the newest offering, the trio redefines their own rules moving on from the raw sound of two previous albums to more sophisticated, sonically diverse compositions, amazingly keeping it all at balance. Since it’s release in June, Tres Caballeros continues to receive praise across rock and progressive media. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, Guthrie Govan (guitar), Marco Minnemann (drums) and Bryan Beller (bass) are all uniquely gifted musicians. This is surely reflected by a long list of solo work and studio collaborations, as well major touring stints with figures such as Steve Vai, UKZ, Deathklok, and Asia. In the last few years Guthrie and Marco recorded two studio albums with Steven Wilson, the highly acclaimed “The Raven That Refused To Sing” and “Hand. Cannot. Erase”. Both musicians proved to be an integral part of Steven Wilson’s studio and live band. Furthermore, Marco and Bryan recorded and toured with fellow virtuoso Joe Satriani.
The Aristocrats rushed to the stage wearing backpacks after what seems like a long day of tourism in a Big Apple (don’t get fooled). They quickly straightened themselves up and fired off with “Stupid 7” off of the new album. Only a few minutes into the song the audience knew they’re in for a treat. After the first display of phenomenal technical abilities, the band continued with three more songs from Tres Caballeros, then revisited older work with “Culture Clash” and “Lousville Stomp”.
The Aristocrats, as the name would suggest, are also known as a great jokers and storytellers. During the song introductions, the audience had a moment to catch their breath and hear some bizarre stories. For example, Bryan told us how fender bender at the gas station in Texas inspired “Texas Crazypants”, while Marco explained why he was trying to outrace the tornado (“Desert Tornado”). Later on, Guthrie told the story of mysterious “Kentucky Meat Shower” which occured in March of 1876 before proceeding with a twangy sounding intro riff. The night wouldn’t be completed without a sing along, and the audience got their chance during “Smugglers Corridore”. The audience even sang along in a bold chorale, to a song part of an alternative soundtrack to the TV show Breaking Bad, the only vocal (humming) part in the band’s repertoire.
Undeniable natural chemistry was evident throughout the set. Guthrie, Marco and Bryan showcase each others abilities, interacting in every possible way a trio can. So many notes perfectly filling the night reminded me of a famous Mozart – Emperor Joseph II exchange (also featured in the film Amadeus)…Emperor: “But Mozart there’s simply too many notes”, to which Mozart replies “Just as many as are necessary, Your Majesty.”
An encore followed immediately after the twelve song set with landmark “Blues Fuckers”. In this case the title is all self explanatory… and no one can make such a ‘mess’ out of good old blues like those guys. Listening to The Aristocrats’ audio recording might work to listener’s advantage. One can stop and rewind to break down the mathematics. However, a live show is an entirely different proposition. It’s a feast for your eyes and ears… stimulating all your senses. Without a question, the band lived up to everyone’s expectations offering two hours of incredible instrumental fitness and more fun then one would anticipate attending a rock/fusion show. The Aristocrats are rightfully recognized as one of today’s top modern fusion acts.
If you’ve seen the band before but couldn’t make it this time here is a little lineup update; Pig and a chicken are still touring but prefer not to be creatively involved at this time. US tour continues through August with Aristocrats making their way to a west coast. If you cannot see them live I highly recommend DVD “Culture Clash Live” or “BOING, We’ll Do It Live!”
Marco Minnemann and Bryan Beller will join Joe Satriani ‘Shockwave World Tour’ in September playing in Europe. Satriani’s “Shockwave Supernova” was recently released and its Joe’s second studio album to include Marco and Bryan as the rhythm section. Progressive rock/fusion trio Travis Larson Band is direct support for The Aristocrats tour in the US. Travis Larson (guitar), Jennifer Young (bass) and Dale Moon (drums) have released six studio albums, with Shift (2013) being the latest one. The band is currently promoting live album “Shift Happens: Live in Mexicali” (2015).
Travis Larson Band: