There are tons of bands with idiotic names. Then there’s the rare
instance when one such band creates a sound so meticulous in its batshit
ingenuity that it not only transcends the offhand stupidity of the
group’s moniker but, in a sublime reversal of expectation, actually
justifies it in a way that makes you feel stupid for being so nominally
apprehensive in the first place. Thursday night I saw DinoWalrus, from “the County
of Kings” at Galapagos in Williamsburg.
But before I actually discuss what DinoWalrus sounds like, let’s parse
the etymology a bit more. Essentially, this is evolution in microcosm: The prehistoric reptile growing fur and whiskers and becoming, over
time, a sizable, adorable aquatic mammal. Extrapolate this Darwinism to
music and we get something like a progression from T. Rex to—why not?—Mastodon.
DinoWalrus definitely psychs you out, and occasionally bursts
into face-peeling shred, but what it really comes off as is a
pre-Perestroika Krautrock broadcast picking up pirate AOR-and-disco
playlists from some buried offshore wire, and then rocking that shit
backwards in really tight pants. It’s pretty great.
The trio switches instruments like mid-life crises in a Guitar Center,
whipping out guitars, keyboards, extra toms, some
flashlight/loop-trigger, more guitars. Axeman/jump-around man Pete
Feigenbaum mentioned to me that he’s working on building up big walls of
sound with all this stuff, but the effect, like this guy’s
wild-man-in-the-burbs stage dives, is surprisingly nimble. No matter the
tech-buildup going on under the lights, it’s really all about watching
dudes straddle, in descending order of complexity, instruments, tables
and confused waitstaff. De-evolution, it turns out, is slightly more fun
to watch than the slog out of the Cambrian stew after all.