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Guitars+Drums=Math Rock

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I don’t claim to be a math genius of any kind. I’m terrible at math. So, when my editor handed me the story of a math rock show, I was understandably apprehensive. Not knowing what to expect, I slipped my calculator in my back pocket, grabbed my notepad and headed out the door to The Lion’s Den on Wednesday.

Math rock is characterized as erratic and unpredictable. According to Wright, several genres are merged to create math rock: punk, blues, jazz, funk and heavy metal to name a few. The traditional rock rhythm of 4/4 is thrown out the window. Imagine hearing what is traditionally only the guitar solo, all the time. Guitarists work the fret board with insane finger dexterity to create complex sounds. Well-known math rock bands include Hella from Nevada City and the Blood Brothers from Seattle.

The Lion’s Den has been operational since November 2008. It’s a venue in Midtown that has it all. "We record bands here, they practice here and we even screen-print band shirts here," explained part owner of The Lion’s Den and guitarist of DMV, Jeff Wright. "All shows here are free. Donations are accepted for touring bands, but the local ones play here for free because they want to relax and give back."

There is a small but loyal following at The Lion’s Den. The performance space has room for a crowd of 80, packed in like sardines. Around 30 people were corralled into the basement last night for the math rock show. Three bands performed: DMV from Sacramento, The Speed of Sound in Seawater from Elk Grove, and Buff Clout from Jacksonville, Fla.

The Speed of Sound in Seawater evoked the most laughter while setting up their equipment. Drummer and Sacramento native, Fernando Oliva engaged in witty banter with the crowd. He performed a mock "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" as audience members picked the characters and scenes. Oliva would enacted a 2-minute improv as he assembled his drum kit.

The Speed of Sound in Seawater and Buff Clout put on amazing shows. It turns out math rock has nothing to do with actual math. No one sings about equations or long division. The math is in the arrangement.

"I would call it complicated guitar playing mixed with above-average drumming," Wright said. "In a musical sense, we try to put together trigonometry or calculus problems for the ear of the listener."

"Artists are more laid back and can have a fun time," said attendee Ben Whiacek as he danced in a group. "I love coming here. No one judges you. Dance all you want, how you want."

Hopefully no one noticed my calculator.


New Years Eve Show at The Lion’s Den
Dec. 31, 8 p.m.
Featuring Sacramento bands Sea of Bees, Chelsea Wolfe, Early and Often
The show is Free, donations accepted

Photos courtesy of Michael A. Ramirez

Photo#1: Jeff Wright
Photo#2: The Speed of Sound in Seawater
Photo#3: The stage
Photo#4: The Speed of Sound in Seawater
Photo#5: People waiting for the next show


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