2011 – 03/31
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.
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.)