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Promo poster curtesy if iO.

There is much that needs to be considered when expanding a current medium of performance into another. ELECTRODIDE: ANCIENT ELECTRONIC GODDESS, an experimental music-tech odyssey performed live by members of the funk group “The Heard,” has some potential, but mostly suffers from poor production choices. If you have caught this band live before at local music venues, you wouldn’t deny they were individually talented musicians. This theatrical journey, however, lacks luster and takes away from what works best about the band — their sound.

Using a rudimentary script with amateur acting execution, the creator and lead Bryant Smith exhibited a variety of talents ranging from looping to trombone playing to exemplary beatboxing, all lost in a story that sought no stake in its characters. It would have been much preferable to hear the music sans all the acting nonsense in between. Much credit should go to Bryant’s brother, Zachary Smith, for providing some neat animation and comic relief (the latter partly due to some technical difficulties with perfect timing).

None of it was helped by the production’s choice of venue — iO boasts a 4 theater entertainment complex, complete with a giant bar and boisterous, disconnected improv youth. A clamorous factory of the sometimes funny, it’s a money making machine where audiences are packed into cabaret theaters like sardines. And yet, magic could have happened still, was it not for the worse offense — a painfully forced audience participation component rendered awkward by Bryant Smith and made worse by drummer PJ Howard who filmed the crowd on his cell phone from the stage. Most folks don’t care to be made to feel foolish all the while committed on permanent record. Luckily this audience consisted largely of adoring family and friends.

Even though, this experiment didn’t quite succeed, “The Heard” should remain encouraged that innovation is its own reward. Their genre of music spills beautifully into other media and could simply use some experience and an outside eye. Then, perhaps, it would be smooth “…sailing on a ship powered by The Groove.”

December 5th, 2016

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