Instrumental heavy prog fusion sounds more like a science laboratory than a descriptor of music. And when TAUK took the stage at Rochester’s Montage Music Hall, they were chemists of sound. An unusually large (by the standards of a small rock club) lighting rig sat at the back of the stage and smoke filled the air to best capture their shine. Guitars, keys and drums awaited their catalysts. The chemistry lesson was about to begin.
TAUK played a brand of jazz fusion that was geared toward jam fans. Being unfamiliar with their music, it was at times difficult to discern where the scripted parts ended and the improvisations began, which is a compliment to both their writing and their jamming.
The band was driven by the relentless pounding of drummer Isaac Teel. He was dressed in a t-shirt that stated: “Kicking It Old School” and a hat that simply said: FUNK, but neither of those even told half of his story. He subscribes to the Dennis Chambers school of drumming: Hit ’em hard, hit ’em fast, hit ’em all. He was the master of his large kit and was a piece of this band that you just couldn’t peel your eyes or ears away from.
Teel was joined on stage by Matt Jalbert on guitar, Charlie Dolan on bass and Alric Carter on keyboards. When the four elements bonded together they created energetic instrumental explosions. Building complex arrangements from a simple ethereal guitar, a swirling organ sound or a heavy thumping bass, the greater whole would arrive with great mind-jarring bombast. A mid-set cover of Nirvana’s In Bloom gave the crowd something familiar to grab onto before being dumped back into the abyss again, but the originals stood strong above the fray nevertheless.
Albany’s Mister F, consisting of Matt Pickering on drums, Scott Hannay on keyboards, Ben Pickering on bass and Andrew Chamberlaine on guitar opened with their unique jazz rock blend that was most reminiscent of Steely Dan. Due to TAUK’s lighting rig and drum set, 3/4’s of the band were awkwardly squeezed off to one side of the stage while Hannay stood off to the other on his own. But they made do. They opened with a new tune called “Sea Level,” ended with a song about solar flares titled “Don’t Lose Your Watch” and mixed in a couple of instrumentals, some mellow grooves, rocking jams, and a whole lot of Moog.