Holy Wave Floods the Bug Jar with Scintillating Sound

Holy Wave, a quintet out of Austin, made a stop at the Bug Jar in Rochester last Wednesday. The stage filled with various keyboards which laid the baseline for much of what the band presented during their set. Sounds layered upon sounds, waves in phase and out. Syncopation shifted and suddenly a united front became polyrhythmic. Their head-swaying psychedelia perfectly matched the venue’s aesthetic. Colorful squiggly waves filled the walls; colorful waves squiggled forth from the speakers. Retro furnishings hung upside down from the ceiling, while the band took nostalgia and flipped it on it’s head.

Their brand new single, “Chaparral” opened the set. A march-like beat built behind textural synths and soaring guitar lines. Art rock influence was apparent immediately, reminiscent of the eerie edges of early Genesis. Wild drum fills cut through the meandering synth and guitar layers in “Maybe Then I Can Cry,” which extended magnificently in a subtly shifting outro. “Western Playland” added a touch of psychedelic surf, this time fuzzy bass blasts broke through the haze.

“She Put a Seed In Your Ear” picked up the pace a bit, but still felt like it was fighting to pull out of their generally slogging cadence. The overlapping layers of keys, bass and guitars rode the rollicking drums until it all crashed into a dripping ooze. The set ended on a highlight from 2020’s Interloper, “I’m Not Living Here Anymore” but the crowd wouldn’t let them leave without an encore, which pulled them way back to 2013 and their early breakthrough, “Do You Feel It.” The room spun on it’s axis a few more times, the colored squiggles undulated a little while longer before silence slapped everyone back to reality.

Rochester’s own Drippers got the night started properly, warming the stage fully for Holy Wave as their tour mates Champaign Superchillin’ had to pull out of the show last minute. Mike Turzanski laid down screeching dissonance with effects-laden guitar work employing a unique finger picked technique while riding the whammy bar heavily. His airy and echoey vocals arrived almost as an after thought. Inspired playing throughout from the bass and drums allowed Turzanski to work some textural guitar magic. Speaking of non-traditional playing, Overhand Sam, of Maybird (among many others), joined in on bass for the night with his namesake overhand playing style. Like the BASF of Rochester’s music scene, he doesn’t make a lot of the tunes you hear, he makes a lot of the tunes you hear better.

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