Industrial Revelation (D’Vonne Lewis, Ahamefule J. Oluo, Josh Rawlings, Evan Flory-Barnes) photo by Kelly O
Wednesday, December 20, 8pm
1303 NE 45th St
$18.50, all ages
Seattle’s beloved garage-jazz foursome is going to play the iconic, unconventional music of Björk. That’s right; we’re talking about the band everyone’s talking about: Industrial Revelation. This time around, the four stellar musicians of Industrial Revelation are trying out a one-off cover performance of Björk’s Homogenic, in celebration of the groundbreaking album’s 20th anniversary.
The band—comprised of trumpeter Ahamefule J. Oluo, drummer D’Vonne Lewis, keyboardist Josh Rawlings, and bassist Evan Flory-Barnes—will commemorate the Icelandic singer/songwriter’s third full-length record by performing the album, in its entirety, with backing from a recently announced special guest: modern string ensemble Andrew D.B. Joslyn and the Passenger String Quartet.
The event goes down on December 20 at the Neptune, starting at 8pm; the show is all-ages, and is predicted to sell out. But for an inclusive and original jazz quad that has performed only a handful, maybe, of cover tunes over their course of 12 years, why plan a through-album cover show?
“We wanted to take our energy and apply it to something else,” Oluo tells Dave Segal (The Stranger). “I think we have a strong enough musical identity to not lose ourselves in this music; to be true to what this music means and maintain our integrity as a distinct unit.”
Oluo says his initial hints towards this concert came around the beginning of this year, when tributes of the Radiohead’s now two-decade-old OK Computer were surfacing left and right. A big fan of OK Computer, Oluo instead turned to another 20-year-old fundamental recording, the revered Homogenic. Reflecting on his reasoning, Olou tells The Stranger:
For me, 1997 was just as much defined by Homogenic, and it made me think a lot about the way we treat masterpieces made by men versus masterpieces made by women, how we idolize them, and how we choose to honor them, and how rarely men celebrate the music of women. And it got me thinking about what Industrial Revelation would sound like playing those incredible tunes and the sound in my head told me immediately that we had to make this happen.
In an instrumental band, it is really difficult to cover “pop” albums (I use the word “pop” in comparison to jazz, America’s statistically least popular music), because often, the melodies just don’t hold up, they are often so dependent on lyrics that when you strip away the words, you are left with something tedious and indistinct. This is not the case with Björk, in general, and Homogenic, specifically. The melody lines dip and swerve, they are unpredictable and virtuosic and the way she sings them, wailing and guttural, make me think of Bubber Miley or Cootie Williams from Duke Ellington’s band, so much more than a pretty sound, something more human and more alien at the same time. There is so much there to work with. (The Stranger, Oct. 2017)
Lewis shares with Earshot Jazz that each band member had a variant level of familiarity with the album before beginning the project. Smiling always, he looks at reviving the album as a personal exploration.
Industrial Revelation has recorded solid albums together over the years, including Liberation and the Kingdom of Nri (2015) and Oak Head (2013); perhaps though, the band is best known for the impressive quality—and quantity—of their live shows throughout just about every venue in Seattle. The amount of concerts these guys put on really isn’t a small feat; Oluo, Flory-Barnes, Lewis, and Rawlings all play in multiple other groups, they travel, they have families, and they simply don’t stop going. When the four team up for Industrial Revelation, they fuse this awesome, singular power into a show that feels like a pocket.
With a little more than two weeks left until the downbeat, ticket buyers are encouraged to act fast or lose out. Oluo may be speaking for a majority of Industrial Revelation fans when he says, “I haven’t been so excited for an Industrial Revelation show in years.”
Tickets and more information are available at stgpresents.org.