Review: An Audio/Visual Spectacle with Windbreaker, Joan of Arc, and Buke and Gase

Saturday night at the Empty Bottle was quite an audio/visual treat. Chicago’s Windbreaker stealthily appeared on stage behind a projection screen full of colorful, glitched out imagery. More than just aesthetic, Nick Read crafted thoughtful and dynamic EDM that incorporated variety, borrowing from other subgenres such as acid and EBM and IDM. Whether you were inclined to dance or take it in with folded arms, it was an engaging set that swooped everyone up into a temporary altered state.   Joan of Arc followed with a sublimely bizarre journey of their own. In lieu of projected visuals, Tim Kinsella and company created a more subtle visual performance through creative instrumentation and intense delivery. The performance was a sandbox of sounds - akin to watching a child play pretend with an array of different toys. With live looping, whirring droning tones, and jazzy staccato beats, the quartet fiddled with everything from eerily quiet to frantic guitars. Despite the group collectively having over two decades under their belts, there was a subtle bashfulness in the air, particularly from Melina Ausikaitis. Her spoken word vocals on “Tiny Baby” were paradoxically powerful and emotive yet soft and innocent. Ausikaitis kept her eyes closed tight while clutching her faux-guitar as she painted a bittersweet and slightly unsettling picture during, “Maine Guy” from their most recent album, 1984. As the set came to a close, the overall pace picked up, eventually ending with a frenzy of lights and dueling, tribal rhythms between Kinsella and drummer Theo Katsaounis.   To end the night, the unabashedly offbeat Buke and Gase took the stage. The New York duo embodies the spirit of making seemingly opposite forces work. Arone Dyer - although clearly serious about her craft - appeared carefree and childlike. She moved wild and passionately, but also delicately and gracefully like a dancer. Aron Sanchez added more of a stoic vibe - careful and still - deliberately focused on the delivering the steady rhythm behind Dyer’s soaring vocal melodies. Formed in 2008, Dyer (buke and main vocals) and Sanchez (gase and backing vocals) shared playful banter and visibly had a tight dynamic and flow on stage. After years of perfecting their sound with their unique homemade instruments, it was exciting to get a sneak peak at what’s to come.   It’s been five years since their last LP, General Dome, so there was a noticeable level of anticipation from fans that were eager to get a glimpse at some of the new material coming soon. The duo indulged in playing plenty of old songs including the driving “Hiccup” as well as “No Land” - a hauntingly beautiful new track from their upcoming album. Their sound is still intricate and eclectic, but shifting to an even more refined and pop-influenced style. If Saturday’s show was any indication of what’s to come, fans of Buke and Gase have a lot to look forward to.
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Jennifer Roger