Cincinnati has a growing live music scene that stretches through every genre in the book. While I cannot speak for every genre in town, I have had a close eye on the funk/jam scene for a while, and one band that has emerged in the past few years in Strange Mechanics. I had heard their name several times before actually hearing their music, and they had opened up for some bigger acts that came through Cincinnati, but I had never gotten there early enough to see them play. When I finally was in the right place and time to see what they had to offer, I was kicking myself for missing all the previous opportunities to see them.
The five piece band is composed of two guitarists, a drummer, bassist, and keyboardist. They bring an incredible improvisation element to their live shows, including powerful instrumental jams and insane solos that display all the incredible talent that each band member has. Their sets often surf through a wave of genres including soul, funk, and hard rock, resulting in a fusion sound that is groovy, dreamy, and overall uplifting, while making sure to melt your mind along the way. While they like to focus on instrumental improvisation and “jamming” during their live performances, their catchy lyrics and vocal harmonies are sure to get stuck in your head as well.
Earlier this year Strange Mechanics released their first full length album Cirque de Strange, and eleven track project that showcases the work they’ve put in since they began playing shows in 2013. While many jambands often save their lengthy improv tracks for the live setting, this album is an acception. Several tracks are quite long, some clocking in at seven, eight, or even ten minutes of incredible music. It is several minutes deep into these songs where you can really start to understand how far they are able to stray from the song structure before bringing it back to the chorus and reminding you where the songs started.
Another unique thing about Strange Mechanics is that there are often local painters and artists set up during their shows. Whether I’ve seen them in small venues or outdoor festivals, there have always been artists with easels set up painting in the midsts of the concert. The music inspires the artists, who create paintings to inspire the musicians. It’s a really cool give and take type of experience that more bands should embrace.
Do yourself a favor and give their album a listen to familiarize yourself with the music. If you like what you hear, the next logical step would be to get out and see them around the city. Venues like Stanley’s Pub and The Madison Live! are some of their frequent stops, but check their touring schedule to find out when and where their next shows are. Stay funky!