As I begin to write this, I’m sitting at Arvada’s popular D-Note, watching a young band called iconoClass
Basically all they’ve done for the past 45 minutes is jam. Almost all of it is guitar solos over rock beats and repetitive chords. There is one microphone set up, but nary a lyric has been sung. Which is okay–if your instrumentation carries it. But being an instrumental-only band takes more concentration, in-depth songwriting and technical skill than most folks realize. And iconoClass isn’t there–at least, not yet.
I went into this gig not knowing anything about iconoClass except their name, because I’d seen some flyers around town. At first, after a song or two, I was tempted to say I had nothing to write about. When I write reviews, especially of local talent, I tend to steer clear of guys who are just jamming to have fun and don’t really care whether they go places. But I don’t get the impression that this is what iconoClass is about; I think they want to go places. As I’ve sat here listening to them (and writing), I have actually heard some good musicianship, some awesome rhythms, some striking sounds from these guys. Right now, they’re four guys taking up space and time on a stage–but there is actually potential here. If I were to fast forward a couple of years–who knows where these guys might be?
So I decided I have something to write about after all: bands in formative stages. Because this is the best way I could describe iconoClass. It’s like I’ve caught a glimpse of an embryo band, or a band in an incubator. Put another way, iconoClass is still in their garage phase. A group of guys who can sort of play, and have found out they can make some really cool sounds–but haven’t really learned yet how to be a band.
But it’s not like these guys are just gonna stay off the map. That remains to be seen. They could really become a band people would want to come out and see. It’s just too early to tell.
Since I began writing this post, the band has wrapped up, and I went and talked to a couple of the guys–and found out I was exactly right in my assessment of them. They are a band in the embryonic stage; they’ve been playing together for six months, and this was their debut public performance. The reason no one sang is that their bass player hasn’t worked up to it yet.
But what impresses me–and I’ll explain this momentarily–is that these guys have no delusions about where they are at. They know they are a band in formation, and they don’t think they are better than they are–and they want to grow. That impresses me because when musicians don’t see their weaknesses honestly, they can’t grow. Frankly, I have little regard for bands who think they are more than they are.
The fact that these guys know their weaknesses tells me iconoClass will go places. How far they go, will still be up to them.
So here is some free advice for my new friends in iconoClass (I told them I was going to post this):
- Yes. Get some vocals going. You won’t be able to carry an audience without them. And be willing to explore some options with vocals, and don’t be afraid to admit if your vocals suck. Again, being honest with yourselves will help you grow.
- Concentrate on playing with one another. Listen to each other. This is happening a little, especially with your drum/bass combo, but it needs to happen more. Practice a bit more give and take with one another–when someone has the lead, everyone back off a bit and give them room.
- Network with other bands; form some relationships with local bands you respect, and try to open for them. Being around musicians who are more advanced will challenge you.
So for the rest of you who were listening in on my iconoClass pep talk–the band will be playing their next show at Old Curtis Street Bar in downtown Denver on January 7, 2010. Don’t take my word for it; go hear a band in formation. (They promised the audience here they would sing next time.)
Best to you guys. Looking forward to watching your journey…