The Jimmy Chamberlin Complex at Lee's Palace, April 30. Tickets: $15. Attendance: 300. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
When it came to the Smashing Pumpkins, back in grungier days, you either loved them or stood around scratching your head, wondering what the hell was the matter with your friends who bought their albums.
But even if you were one of the latter, and even if Billy Corgan and James Iha were strangely puffed up attention-cravers with bad attitudes and bad hair, you had to admit that the Pumpkins had a pretty good drummer. OK, a really good drummer. And then, later, you had to admit the same thing about Zwan.
At first, Jimmy Chamberlin's latest project, the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex, seems a far cry from both the indie grunge of the Pumpkins and the prog foolishness of Zwan, but it quickly becomes clear that the experimental jazz fusion slash prog rock trio contains elements of both.
The Complex, a trio featuring Billy Mohler on bass and Sean Woolstenhulme on guitar, runs smoothly from genre to genre in the space of one tune, heavy on the neo-psychedelia, with forays into chunky metal, smooth ambience and hardcore surf jazz built around Chamberlin's wildly impressive rolls, shots and rhythms.
One of the main things that sets Chamberlin apart from his contemporaries, structural sensibilities aside, is how effortlessly smooth he manages to make everything. Unfortunately, practically nothing happens onstage, and standing there in the dark watching three guys noodle at their instruments just doesn't constitute everyone's idea of entertainment.
A large chunk of what goes on is instrumental. Mohler and Woolstenhulme do share vocal duties, which remain generally low key; and the lyrics could certainly use a bit of sprucing up. There's something a little dull about repeating "Love is real" over and over. Instrumentally, though, it's one of those things you have to recognize as brilliant even if watching it is boring.
This isn't live music. It's music you play late at night for your music geek friends. You know, you shut off all the lights except the Christmas lights you keep up all year round, and light up a big joint.
Or something like that. I don't smoke pot.