July 25, 2012


Modern music is a highly fragmented world. There’s post-rock, alt-rock, emo, screamo, prog rock, death metal, metalcore, math rock and countless other genres, but no other band seems to play the same style of music as Oakland’s Major Powers and the Lo-Fi Symphony. Their hyperactive blend of stadium rock and musical theatre could be almost be described as “Een Rock” as they seem to take their inspirations from Queen, Ween and Bruce Springsteen. While many modern bands are content to gaze at their shoes and mewl out sad lyrics, this power trio has the stadium-sized bombast of Queen, the obtuse agenda of Ween and the populist power of the Boss.

Sprung from the musical loins of pianist/songwriter Nicholas Powers and ably abetted by French brothers Kevin and Dylan Gautschi (guitar and drums, respectively), these hooligans smash boundaries like looters on a shopping spree. Whacked-out klezmer rhythms, tongue-in-cheek lyrics and epic vocal harmonies coalesce into a Ritalin-infused musical theatre of the damned. In the world of Major Powers, the Phantom of the Opera haunts an inflatable bouncy castle.

One listen to their 13-song debut album, We Became Monsters is enough to conjure up images of seasick pirates, mad professors, drunk Muppets, disenchanted stoners and frantic housewives, all trying to hook-up without a chance in the world. If Radiohead had a sense of humor or Muse refused to take their Adderall, this is the album they would make.

What separates Major Powers and the Lo-Fi Symphony from the pack of goofy, show tunes-inspired bands is that their music uses humor to mask deeper truths. The non-stop barrage of pop-culture references and rapid-fire stylistic changes mimics the information overload of modern times. When they poke fun at the hipster who thinks he’s got it all sussed out, they’re really reflecting the wholesale lunacy of an internet-enabled culture that is constantly pushing for the new at the expense of comprehension.

When Major Powers brings his Lo-Fi Symphony to Nevada City’s Haven Underground on Wednesday, July 25th, it’s safe to assume that a beery bacchanalia will erupt. These high-energy blasts of post-everything pop are designed to bring people together while confounding their senses.

-Gavin Bellows, Haven Underground