The Piston had a night of nerd music, celebrating the release of “A Vision of Light” by Villainest. Nerd music, for those who may be asking what the hell that is, consists of music whether that be rock, funk, electronica, metal, etc, that focuses on subject matter that appeals to the nerd/geek audience. The subject matter can range from sci-fi movie, television, and literature inspiration, to horror and monsters, to conspiracies, to interesting factual science and more. The lineup was going to consist of nerd music from Double Experience, Villainest, and Unidentified Funk Object.
Double Experience was the first to go on, and the three piece band came out with a bang. They hail from Ottawa and just pulsated with intense energy. The lead man was the singer, and bassist. He was a bonafide goofball with insane bulging eyes and enigmatic facial expressions. The band oozed charisma. They played in a heavy indie style bordering on heavy metal. The nerdiness came through in the subject matter, and became more apparent after the first song ended with an electric guitar style Rick and Morty theme. They performed a welcome rendition of Blue Oyster Cults "Godzilla" and made it their own, equipped with audience interaction and reaction. Fists in the air chanting “GO, GO, GODZILLA”, without the oohs. Besides the lead man sticking his tongue out constantly like he was Gene Simmons, they're all talented musicians with a knack for working the crowd. Their subject matter covered phobia of artificial intelligence, and being stranded on a strange planet in their song "The Pilot". It was an exciting show and an overall fun experience to see. They carried themselves like a band that has been around for thirty years.
Villainest went on second, and was the main event of the evening. This was the album release party for “A Vision of Light” which came out six days prior to this event on 12 inch vinyl. They came out with a 16-bit version of the Jurassic Park theme, which started off their set with an epic tone and a light chuckle. It is unquestionable that they are inspired by 80s pop, glam, and new wave music with a modern twist. It is certainly a marketable genre these days with the 80s style recently becoming a pop culture phenomenon with entertainment like Stranger Things, the reboot of TRON, and the nostalgic resurgence of Atari and 16-bit games to name an incredibly few number of things. Musically they were incredibly solid. The keys and 16-bit riffs were definitely what made their sound. They keytarist was incredibly dynamic and her vocals were a bit reminiscent of No Doubt era Gwen Stefani in some songs. Some of their tunes were fast and pop punkish and some were slower and indie, but their style was cohesive. The lead guitarist and keytarist shared vocal duties, and their voices were similar musical sensibilities that complimented each other well. They had a song that was jokingly said they were pitching to the TV show, Riverdale. It was called "Betty and Veronica" which was both musically sensual and incredibly contemporary. Throughout the set they were joking with each other and the audience and had an air of comfort. The subject matter was also 80s themed, and one song was a self-proclaimed movie montage song inspired by Rocky IV, another is literally called “Slow Motion Gunfights”, which was prefaced by a Mission Impossible story interlude. They played for nearly an hour and a half before ending with a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir", where an 16-bit electronic riff, reminiscent of a karaoke track, replaced the iconic guitar riff. They said they had been working on their album for two years, with good reason. All of the songs are incredibly well produced, rehearsed, and written. They played with palpable charisma and was an entirely exciting band, in both performance and freshness.
Unidentified Funk Object was the third band to go on, and acted as a denouement to the long Villainest set. The stage was struggling to fit the octet, but the space they occupied, they owned. To imagine traditional 70s funk (brass section included), space age sci-fi themes, comedy, and a Theremin in a single act is joyously overwhelming. They opened the show with a fitting song, called "Ufology", from their album of the same name released in 2017. The band is fronted by Dr. G, a Bill Nye, Rick Moranis, Fox Mulder embodiment that really ruled the Theremin in his lab coat and red bowtie. His dry, robotic, rap like vocals were complimented by Xarthra's melodic runs. They have a breadth of knowledge in both their funk craft, and the science they sung about. Some highlights were "Robofunk", "Extraterrestrial", and the fact that we all learned that even outer space "Can't Silence the Funk". There was also a welcome Jamiroquai cover by the guitarist who had a bizarre, uncanny resemblance to Kyle Mooney of SNL, which makes me think his "Blues Brothers" look was intentional. In terms of the crowd, it had definitely shifted at this point. The nerd music fans had departed at the end of Villainest, but they were soon replaced by a smaller crowd of drunk wanderers from other bars looking for a place to dance. They were certainly not disappointed. The funkiness of United Funk Object was downright infectious, and inspired even the least funky to dance their asses off. They ended the night on a high note, and are definitely worth going to experience.
The best part about this bill was that each band stood out on their own, and yet had that similar thematic thread. Although it was Villainest’s album release party, it was as if they were all headliners. It is unique to find a show with escalating excitement and sustaining of such for the duration. There was not a dull moment. Even though this is considered "nerd music", I can guarantee that every performer was beyond cool and admirable in the best possible way.
You can find all of these bands on social media and in local circuits. Check them out for your own sanity!