Sensory Overload: Dane Terry & Jonathan Hape
On the other hand, the pair couldn't be much different. Terry is a charismatic vaudevillian piano man, while Hape is a soft-spoken dude with an acoustic guitar and some electronic gizmos. So the prospect of them playing a show together at Rumba Cafe last Thursday was intriguing.
After a less than satisfying display from an angry fellow with a microphone under the name Sissy, Terry took the stage rocking what he called his "masculine persona" - striped shirt, sport coat, bowler hat. He perched behind a massive Korg keyboard, threw his head back and started plinking away.
Terry's got everything you could ask for in a performer - distinct sound, winning persona, virtuosic chops and songwriting that's both charmed and charming - but perhaps his best attribute last Thursday was his sense of humor.
During the performance, pie-faced Alive cover boy Zach Baird, standing nearby, remarked that Terry wanted to be a comic before he decided to focus on music. That humorous streak certainly showed, both in his wisecracks between songs and in his retooled rendition of "Lies About Love," which made full use of the goofy sound effects available through his electric piano.
His set wasn't all about jokes, though. More often, Terry lost himself inside the songs, shifting tempos and launching into virtuoso riffs at the mercy of his own muse. For such technically busy music steeped in hammy traditions, his stuff is deeply emotional, and watching him pour his heart out was captivating stuff.
Even with a pair of backing musicians at his disposal, Hape wasn't as commanding a performer as Terry, though his show was fascinating for different reasons.
"Carnivore" is a densely arranged, carefully produced record, and recreating its mid-fidelity splendor on stage would be an impressive feat for three people. Hape and band gave it a go, and though the performances rarely connected like they do on record, I was intrigued by the ways they tried to bring the songs to life.
Hape began the show by frantically banging a tom, using a sampler to build a percussion loop from the various timbres and tempos. It was a noble attempt, but the ensuing "We Were the Sky" lacked sufficient intensity until the end, when Hape ditched his guitar and sat down at the drum set to show off his surprisingly accomplished percussive skills.
No matter how Hape configured his band, though, the material seemed sleepy and rarely felt as engaging as his painstakingly assembled studio versions. I'd love to see what kind of show he would put on with more players at his disposal.