Concert review: Caveman (with Computer Magic) brings the east coast to the no coast for a night of electro pop at the Old Rock House, Friday, March 8

Caveman at the Old Rock House. Photo by Mike Gualdoni.

The Old Rock House seemed calm towards the beginning of the night, with just enough people to fill the outer booths of the lower level. As the night went on, however, the venue slowly filled up for the two bands that brought their indie New York sounds to St. Louis.

The night kicked off with an experimental electronic band that provided an almost vintage sci-fi movie vibe to the venue. Usually a four-piece band, Computer Magic played as a duo made up of Danielle Johnson on vocals and keyboard with Ignacio Rivas Bixio playing drums in place of the usual Chris Egan, who unfortunately had to miss the tour after an allergic reaction to hot dogs. The two artists combined created a sound of modern electro pop with just enough of a touch of the ’80s era that would have had the dance floor in motion if the set was a little later and the blood alcohol content of the crowd was a tad higher.

Computer Magic made for an enjoyable warmer to start things up. Johnson stood behind her keyboard, Boss pedal and Macbook system composing the dreamy, toe-tapping tunes as Bixio beat the drums equipped with his bold white headphones on his head and tall white russian by his side, half full by the end of the set. After breaking down their set up and refilling their drinks, they joined the audience in the waiting game for the headliners.

After a little bit of down time, Caveman suddenly occupied the stage. The five piece from Brooklyn was performing for the first time in St. Louis, and the now packed venue gave the musicians a warm riverboat welcome as their synth heavy sounds filled the room. Caveman front man Matthew Iwanusa playfully caught a drumstick bounced off the ground and yelled into the crowd, “We don’t only play music!” Their carefree stage presence matched the chill, sometimes soothing, sometimes haunting east-coast indie rock sounds that poured out from their instruments. Guitarist James Carbonetti and bassist Jeff Berrall were very much a team, feeding off each other’s energy as they created the framework of the music along with keyboardist Sam Hopkins and drummer Stefan Marolachakis.

The band’s talent truly shined when Iwanusa set down his white guitar with the body bearing a bucking Cowboy for a pair of drumsticks. The double drum songs brought about a new level of intensity, with beats so powerful that the drum sticks were used upside down to prevent breakage. This element of the show was most apparent during the incredible play through of the song, “Easy Water,” as the hypnotic bass and commanding tribal drums, combined with the droning lyrics, took the crowd out of its element and lulled them collectively into a trancelike state that most people can only acquire by the use of less than legal substances and chemicals. It was truly a pivotal moment of the show.

If you didn’t know it before the concert, Caveman was sure to make it known that its newest album is just around the corner, being released on April 2. With the impressive debut, “Coco Beware,” behind them, time will tell if the new, self-titled album can continue to improve upon its new-wave sound, or fall to the fate of mediocrity that so many bands succumb to after a debut hit record.

Caveman left the audience wanting more as they left the stage and ventured out into the Friday night and a following off day in St. Louis, hopefully to enjoy some of the finer things this city has to offer like Cherokee Street or toasted raviolis. The two NYC bands marked St. Louis as their midway point from New York to Texas, eventually landing and performing in South by Southwest. That is, however, if they can make it through their upcoming gig at the Hi Ho Lounge in New Orleans without losing any more band members to Bourbon Street or hot dog allergies.

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