On Wednesday night, the rock gods bestowed a shower of riffs and feedback on Charlottesville. At Atomic Burrito, The Brimstone Howl and The Points whipped out gritty garage numbers. The Tea Bazaar reverberated with the psychedelic sounds of Phantom Family Halo. The powers that be, however, led me to Belmont’s "jazz and blues lounge," Saxx, to witness bursts of mad energy from The Cinnamon Band, Pterodactyl and Truman Sparks.
One nation under Trog: Truman Sparks blasted Saxx Jazz and Blues Lounge with genre-jumping tunes about its fictional hero
Trekking over the Blue Ridge from the Shenandoah Valley, The Cinnamon Band stepped on stage and immediately grabbed the crowd by its collective collar. "Hear this," they seemed to say. "We’ve only got a guitar and drum set, but that’s all you need to rock!" Occasional loops and unrelenting stick-pounding doubled the duo’s sound as they laid down a set of melodic post-punk.
Then in swooped Pterodactyl: The band’s t-shirts depict the prehistoric winged-lizard biting off the head of a triceratops, and that’s a pretty fitting metaphor for its sound. These Brooklynites flapped their wings with on-off-on-off ruptures, trebly plink-ity-plinks and soaring lobs of jagged sound. Pterodactyl’s sonic platter is not for the squeamish and best taken standing up, so it was good to see people leave Saxx’s candle-lit tables and rock out in the front row.
Truman Sparks capped the night with a glorious tribute to its muse, Trog, and its genre of choice, prog. Like King Crimson if they were 20ish punk rockers, Truman Sparks bring ever-changing riffs until your head can’t help but bang. From sharp and snakey guitar arpeggios to the shamanistic a capella chanting of "Trog Zarathustra," Sparks conquered Saxx’s large L-shaped stage and stopped its freight train of sound on a dime at 11:59, just a minute before the show was scheduled to end.
"Thank you," said guitarist Jon Bray, as the amps began to cool. "We’re Truman Sparks from Charlottesville." And we’re lucky to have them.