Last night, the Feve hosted two sets of Organ Yank’s music and madness. Danny Kamins, Alex Cohen, Andrew Lawrence, and Tom Stephens laid down precise but wild tunes above Main Street.
Kamins started by pumping out a groove on the baritone saxophone. Within seconds, Stephens had joined in with a war beat on the drums, while Lawrence flipped out on the keyboards. Riffs from Cohen’s guitar sailed over this ocean of sound and groove.
Cohen’s fingers grew still as he called out, “I am a member of an angel race!” The band followed his lead, repeating the phrase. “I come from somewhere out in outer space!” Cohen again intoned–sans microphone–over the blast of the drums, keys and horn. The band flew into a brief bout of saxophone squealing, guitar screeching, fingers slamming and drum set blasting, before coming to an abrupt halt. After this, anything could happen.
Those who saw Organ Yank last year may have noticed the absence of Corey Wilcox, the band’s former trombone player, who is not in school this year. According to Kamins, “What happened with Corey–he left the band.” This is not the first change in lineup for Organ Yank. Originally, the band featured Will Mason on the drums; after Mason left the band, Tom Stephens stepped in to fill his spot.
Organ Yank is characterized by this kind of unpredictability. From the abstract introduction burst forth a driving funk tune over which Cohen sculpted a wondrous blues solo. “Blues is what taught me how to improvise,” Cohen told me after the show.
At the end of the second tune, Stephens, Lawrence and Cohen reached automatically for their beers. Kamins uttered the first of only a few addresses to the audience, “Can everyone hear everyone OK?” Yes, everyone could hear. One couldn’t help but hear. Though Kamins played the entire night without a microphone, the baritone sax was not only heard, but also physically felt. The vibrations cut right through the flesh and straight to the bone, where they would not be ignored.
The entire performance was punctuated with endlessly entertaining improvised sections, which often meandered to the point that a return to the theme was like waking from a dream. On occasion, Organ Yank tricked the audience, pausing just long enough that I thought the song was over, only to launch back in at the first hint of applause.
While there were no stage antics as extreme as last year’s human sacrifice, the music was anything but reserved. Kamins let loose with saxophone shrieks like monkeys interspersing more traditional playing, and at a couple points, Cohen took a screwdriver to the strings of his guitar, using first the head and then the handle as a slide. Lawrence’s keyboard sound ranged from a jazz organ to video game, horror film, and flying saucer effects.
To finish up the night, Organ Yank brought everyone back into the realm of the concrete with a straight-up blues jam. As happened periodically throughout the night, the lights flickered once or twice, prompting me to wonder if the Feve could really handle Organ Yank.