Chalaxy just came out with a new album, and to celebrate, they threw together a stellar night of local music. The electronic-psychedelic-dance-rock band were joined at Nashville’s Basement East by three acts: Dead Cures, Lauren Strange and The Pretty Killers, and Justin Kalk. The evening rounded out into a great blend of sights and sounds, so let’s dig in.
Kicking the show of was Dead Cures. The brand-new alt-pop trio released their first single “Say Everything Now” on October 2nd, and they have yet to release a second… but you can get away with that when your single is freaking AWESOME. Thankfully, their performance lived up to my high expectations. Strokesian guitar riffs from Michael Kisak and slick drum fills from Evan Buchanan supported Sharon Koltick as she grooved on bass and sang with both sweetness and intensity (not the easiest combo to pull off). The group showed a nice chemistry on stage, especially considering their relative novelty, and the smiles on their faces were contagious. I look forward to future bad-assery from them.
Up next was another trio, Lauren Strange and The Pretty Killers. Grand-Prize Winner of the John Lennon International Songwriting Contest, Lauren Strange pours herself into a noble, dying art – 90’s grunge pop-rock. Her single “Say Yes” certainly brings Alanis Morissette to mind (and if you think that’s a bad thing you should probably listen to “You Oughta Know” right now). Strange is powerful on stage, both vocally and on guitar. She’s backed up on bass by icy-cool Lauren Sauer (pronounced “sour.” Yes, those are their real names. Yes, that is awesome) and the animated Adam Reszenski on drums. If you’ve been stuck listening to early Veruca Salt, keep an eye out for her debut album, which should be coming soon.
Then came the main event – Chalaxy. As the Pretty Killers cleared the stage a flurry of activity spurred onto it. Colorful set pieces were thrown about as Chalaxy jammed The Basement East’s large stage with enough stuff to make their 5 piece band look like 7 people. The house lights dimmed and the projectors came on, throwing acidy swirls of neon around the room. The band hit the stage and started pumping pure energy into the room. Guitars were shredded. Drums were pounded. Hair. Was. Flipped. Chalaxy’s blend of genres combines some of the most potent musical elements from the past four or five decades. Tastes of psychedelic, prog, metal, Latin, dance, house, electronic, and good ol’ rock n’ roll are tied together by the band’s technical skill and strong songwriting. Their sound is huge, and they manage to work in a surprising amount of variance while never losing what makes them unique. Front-man Taylor Cole slithered around the stage with a blacked gaze, engaging the crowd and his band mates. He’s a dynamic performer who really shows that he belongs on stage. While it would be nigh-impossible to capture their live energy on a record, Pronia comes pretty close. Parts like the jungle-drum breakdown on “HeadHunters” don’t hit with the same force that they do live, but the record absolutely showcases the band’s breadth and talent.
Closing out the night was electric blues shredder Justin Kalk. Supported by a couple heavy hitters – Steo Britton on bass and Jeremy Williams on drums – Kalk proved that blues guitar rock is not dead. His massive amp stack blasted adroit guitar licks right to the back of the room as he stomped, twisted, and thrashed about the stage. While it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, those that want see someone seriously rip on a guitar are in for a treat.