Tera Melos headline a noisy night at the Pearl Street

By Jackson Maxwell

Last Tuesday night, the Pearl Street Nightclub in Northampton was the site of the first Massachusetts stop on Tera Melos’ month-long American tour. Sharing the bill with Tera Melos were Fang Island and noise-pop duo Zorch. All three bands made for a loud, fun night of music showcasing numerous genres.

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Zorch, a group hailing from Austin, Texas, began the proceedings. The duo is composed of keyboardist Zac Traeger and a drummer/vocalist known as Shmu. When Zorch launched into their first song at 8 p.m., the audience was composed of a grand total of 11 people. Regardless of the light turnout at first, Zorch gave those few audience members quite the show.

Playing a psychedelic, noisy, heavily layered and intricate take on pop, the band’s performance was an experience in sensory overload. Intoning in an often wordless harmony or melody, Shmu’s vocals were quite reminiscent of Animal Collective. Throughout their 45-minute set, the band was augmented by an increasingly complex, tailor-made animation projection. This made the band not only sonically overwhelming, but added a disconcerting visual aspect to their performance. By the time the band had finished, the audience had grown to include about 50 people, almost all of whom seemed to be quite impressed. Despite only being third on the night’s bill, Zorch set the bar incredibly high right off the bat.

The next performers were Fang Island, a Brooklyn-based quartet who are Sargent House label-mates with Tera Melos. Playing plenty of power chords and indulging in frequent shredding, the band played a decidedly fist-pumping breed of rock music. Despite the crowd never topping 65 to 70 people, Fang Island drew a rowdy, enthusiastic reception when they launched into favorites such as “Sisterly” and “Seek It Out;” both from their most recent album “Major.” The band seemed to be enjoying themselves, going so far as to launch into an impromptu Metallica cover when their lead guitarist broke a string, giving the crowd the perfect excuse to form a brief mosh pit.

Despite (or possibly due to) the band’s party-ready, lighthearted rocking attitude, they seemed just a little bit out of place coming after the ultra-serious, multi-layered experimentation of Zorch. Fang Island’s songs seemed to be reaching for far greater heights than they actually reached. The band probably would have been better served on a bill with bands more like themselves; because on Tuesday night, despite even their more positive qualities, they sounded fairly out of place.

Not taking terribly long to set up, Tera Melos took the stage at 9:50 p.m. Opening with a spirited version “Weird Circles,” the first track on their most recent album, “X’ed Out,” the band quickly set the template for their set. With beautiful harmonies, a lovely melody and a loud, noisy attack in the choruses, Tera Melos immediately showed their diverse colors to the Pearl Street crowd.

Although the set leaned heavily towards material from “X’ed Out,” released this April, the band did dip into a few selections from their back catalog. From their 2010 album, “Patagonian Rats,” the band played a spirited, catchy version of “Frozen Zoo” that delighted the small crowd to no end. The band also performed an epic version of “Patagonian Rats” track “Trident Trail” that gracefully moved its way through section after section over the course of nearly 10 minutes. The band even dipped into an instrumental off of their 2005 untitled debut album, further delighting some of the more hardcore fans in the audience.

The diversity of “X’ed Out” was on full display throughout the band’s set. “Bite” alternated between a doom-harboring march in its verses to a gorgeous and ethereal chorus. “Slimed” was a deafening, stoner-metal-esque number that demonstrated the band’s hard rock chops. Just when the band’s energy seemingly started to wane a little, the poppy, catchy “Sunburn” brought it right back again in full force before it could disappear.

The band said very little to the audience, but at one point guitarist and lead singer Nick Reinhart remarked that it was the band’s first time in Northampton, and said, “to have this many people show up is great, and for everyone to be actually into it is just amazing.”

Throughout the sets of all three bands, the audience was always enthusiastic and polite, leading to a wonderful atmosphere. And although the three bands that played on Tuesday night were all quite different, they all combined for a truly great night of music at Pearl Street.


Jackson Maxwell can be reached at [email protected]