THE SECRET MACHINES at the Mod Club, May 15. Tickets: $17.50. Attendance: 250. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Dallas Texans Secret Machines played Monday night to a sparse few lucky enough to be in the know about these guys.
Standing there watching the trio, I couldn't help thinking it's a pity that a band like that is still relatively under the radar - still a cloak-and-dagger operation, if you will.
With no openers in tow, the Machines had their work cut out for them, what with people fighting off the Mondays and the miserable weather outside, but perhaps that challenge was part of what made the band absolutely slay.
You'd be hard-pressed to find another three-piece band that could generate as much tension and volume as the Machines. Soaring numbers like The Road Leads Where It's Led and Pharaoh's Daughter sounded huge, with their walls of reverb and crashing cymbals, and Daddy's In The Doldrums flaunted an ominous, creeping groove that became as unsettling as it was entertaining.
And, yes, the music was what carried the show more than guitarist Josh Garza 's or keyboardist/bassist/singer Brandon Curtis 's stage presence. (The latter sounded like Placebo's Brian Molko crossed with a deranged version of Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick.)
They didn't act like rock 'n' roll corpses onstage, but just seemed to be way into what they were doing, so maybe they considered a lot of movement unnecessary.
Drummer Benjamin Curtis was far and away the most animated and entertaining member, bashing on his drums like he had pictures of his enemies taped to their skins.
Stage presence is great and all, but I'll trade that in a sec for the mesmerizing light show that anchored the night. While lights play second fiddle at most concerts (excluding maybe something like old Pink Floyd), the Machines' show worked like a perfectly cued accessory to the music, giving the whole night huge atmosphere. The effect bordered on ethereal and cinematic, featuring strobes, fog machines and lasers.
Maybe the intensity of the Secret Machines' music isn't for everybody, and maybe they'll have to remain covert, at least for the time being, to the indie and alt masses. But that's okay, cuz after seeing them hold court with their drawn-out and ambitious psych rock, everyone there may be tempted to keep the secret to themselves.