Last night was another record release party and it was great. Great is a poor adjective, but I looked in a thesaurus and I couldn't find anything suitable so great it is. I mean outstanding is a good one. Excellent I guess, but every word in the English language cannot come close to an Ohio Sky experience.
Admittedly I felt very selfish leaving my very pregnant wife at home with the 5 year old. When she said to go, I heard sirens going off, "It's a trap!". She assured me to go, it wasn't like I go out all that often, and a lot of bands do not get me off the couch to spend money. Ohio Sky did, does, and will probably continue to do so. She even said she would have gone had she not been, you know, been almost 9 months pregnant.
There are some things I don't get about concerts. I was going to pre-order tickets, but the prices online were $16.75. So I decided no, I'm not going. When I did decide at the last second to go, I walked up to the box office and got my ticket for $12.00. Does it really cost the House of Blues that much to process the transaction online?
Anyway I walked in and went right to the merch table and grabbed the new record pressed into clear vinyl and I got the CD and I entered into the room, record in hand and just listened.
What I love about Ohio Sky is that they shed the delusions of grandeur. Their first demo recording of 6 songs under the name THE Ohio Sky I picked up at the first Cleveland Ingenuity fest was really good. I knew right then and there that there was something special about this band, but the band's myspace page at one point had a phrase; "changing the face of rock." but when you played their music, as great as it was, didn't offer anything in the way of a change in the face of rock as they professed. It fit the current popular rock music, big vocals and catchy hooks but it just sounded like everything on the radio. I think their rhetoric regarding their talent was a product of the narcissism of the now former front man. Maybe, I don't know, but as talented as he is as a singer and songwriter and he is, his lyrics and his sound didn't push the genre as much as I knew he could. THE Ohio Sky was just a rehashing of a band they might have been before, repackaged, and re-released.
When Rob departed and Vinny took over the lead vocals and added a keyboard player (Patrick Finegan) and a rhythm guitarist (Michael Bashur). The addition of the keyboardist and Vinny on vocals gave the band and completely different sound and then they dropped the "THE". Vinny's tenor voice coupled with all the neat sounds the keyboards come with made for a completely spacey journey. This was the genre pushing I knew this band had in them. This is when things really started to take off for me. They got rid of the flashy myspace posturing and just made great music. This was when they transformed into Ohio Sky.
Apophis is as much groundbreaking as it is a space odyssey to those recesses of your mind you could only enter when you were asleep. Opening an album with a 7 minute instrumental is as much genius as it is risky.
Ohio Sky established their sound with Apophis and made a statement. Their second album, Curses, took that space rock sound and polished it, packaged it up with radio friendly tunes and crazy hypnotic riffs. It is best you listen in a dark room with your stereo turned up to 11. It truly is a visceral experience.
"This House" is a further exploration of what kind of range Ohio Sky has. Taking it slow and methodical, the songs sound as much improvised as planned out. They clearly have a desire to be kept out of a box. Scratch that. The box, smash it and say to hell with boxes.
Their new album "The Big Distraction" sounds like they know exactly who they are and who they want to be musically. They are unabashed to rock you so hard you're trembling and then take you down and just relax.
It's hard to think back to a band in recent memory that has gotten continually better, creative, and didn't get into the genre definitions that come with being a band in the world of classification. I literally have them sorted into their own genre on my phone. They aren't rock, they aren't acid rock, they are straight up, Ohio Sky.
Ohio Sky keeps getting better. Each person brings something to the table. With Michael moving over to bass when Mike Drury left, the foursome has never sounded tighter. Michael at one point uses a bow from a string instrument on his electric bass. The sound is just hauntingly delightful.
This show opened with a black out on stage and nothing but a projection of snow, stars, and smoke in the background and the lights never came up. They were back lit like shadows on a wall, letting their music speak for itself and it happened to rock your face off. Their stage presence is intoxicating.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This new album is worth a dictionary and the hour break in your day to listen to it in its entirety. This is what rock can truly be.
When you look back to footage of bands that started a movement, last night could have easily been one of those shows. Playing to a packed room, shoulder to shoulder on stage and in the crowd, Ohio Sky took you along on their musical journey. All our hearts beating with every smack of the drum and strum of the guitar. Our heads bobbing as one. Live shows are amazing and if you miss your chance to see Ohio Sky live, you are wasting your life.