Pegasus Dream, RYAT Live Show Review

Rotture
Portland, OR
2011 – 03/31

RYAT

Despite the fact that RYAT recently played our SXSW house party, I will admit that I had no idea what their live show was like. Because I was running around like a madwoman, all I knew was that their set-up takes quite a bit of time and looks like quite a complex maze of gear. That, and they actually tour with a video artist, and that is quite a dedication to the craft, particularly for a mid-sized band. Luckily, RYAT isn’t just blowing smoke. They are professional as all heck.

The music RYAT makes isn’t dancey, per se, and can be considered unconventional even in the ever-saturated realm of experimental electronic acts. That’s where the appeal lies, though. Drums build and fall, rotating between the individual drum sets employed by the two members, Christina Ryat and Tim Conley, and mixes fade and cross with cues taken from progressive electronic tracks and DJ sets. I can honestly say I have never seen a band perform like this, with RYAT’s vocals falling somewhere between Bjork’s and CocoRosie’s, her stage presence vibing like a classically-trained dancer at a techno club.

Prior to the show, my friend had explained to me that he was far from sold on the idea of live visuals accompanying sets, because they seem far too commonplace these days, and more often than not, they detract from the live performance. I happen to agree. far too many musicians incorporate visuals without truly understanding the stake they hold, but RYAT know how to do a live show right. The visuals, programmed live by video artist Annapurna Kumar, add great value; falling directly upon the band members’ bodies rather than behind them, they offer perfectly-paced and perfectly-appropriate content. What’s more: something about Rotture’s subwoofer and sound system caused a whipping of bass that slapped me with winds so hard that I seriously thought, multiple times, that someone had thrown an object at me. This sonic oddity was naturally timed perfectly to the music, offering a fourth-dimensional factor to the show. It was seriously incredible, and incredibly bizarre.

Pegasus Dream

During RYAT’s set, Christina Ryat described headlining band Pegasus Dream, saying, “My mother would say, ‘What nice boys!'” and I could instantly see where this impression might’ve come from. Pegasus Dream were a complete 180 from RYAT. Between their 8-bit melodies, humorous sound check antics, goofy stage banter (about this particular show being the one year anniversary of Pegasus Dream an fellow Portlanders Nucular Aminals being neighbors), and video art transitions with images of — I think — Sasquatch, Pegasus Dream remind me in a way of Napoleon Dynamite. (Hope that isn’t offensive, guys.) What I mean is: their music is light-hearted and probably good for dancing around a living room to. And I don’t wholly mean the comparison, either; I rather hate Napoleon Dynamite, and these guys are better than that.

(I should also note that they have some kind of extremely talented designer in their midst, as their branding, as it translates to posters and CDs and all other collateral — is top-notch and worth a peek.)

Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/she) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

In 2017, Vee released the narrative short film, Searching Skies — which touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States — and co-organized The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. 2022 sees the release of their next short film, Reckless Spirits, which is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature film.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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