Drummer Drew Pierce is dressed for trick-or-treating in a Luke Skywalker robe, and afroed lead guitarist Edwin Jered Stephens looks so kick-ass in an old-timey vest and bowtie it shouldn’t even be a costume. Marcus Rubio, sitting in on violin and synth as part of his ongoing quest to play in every band in SA, for some reason wears green makeup and has a poster for the movie Unbreakable — ironically ripped to shreds during the Cartographers set — taped to his T-shirt. Bassist Roy Scavone, covered in oozing fake wounds, plays a multitasking zombie Riverdance-stomping through the set with a lit cigarette hanging from his lips. Vocalist Chris Maddin, in his black hat, is appropriately reminiscent of Bob Dylan, whose Basement Tapes is an obvious influence on the band’s sound, but Maddin could’ve just as easily passed for Bono, Ian Brown from Stone Roses, or even, for that matter, James Blunt.
Appropriately enough, the band begins covering Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” and switches midsong to Weezer’s “My Name Is Jonas” in a mashed-up medley that only makes sense onstage. The Trees’ originals flow better, blending pop, rock, baggy, jam, and less easily definable genres into a distinctive near homogeny immune to referential reduction. Anthemic fist-pumper “The Day the World Left Me” gets the crowd singing along. “It bothers my conscience,” Maddin concludes while everyone solos simultaneously.
“A Different Tune” baits a bona-fide hook with a striking eight-note riff, and after Pierce’s quick count-off, “Behind Closed Doors” seems to begin mid-song, the loud center section of an indie-rock song with the quiet bookends lopped off. Full of “lalas,” “yeah yeahs,” and “duh duh duhs,” the songs pack enough force to fill a stadium and the energy pent up in the confines of Rebar takes its toll. Before closing with Wilco cover “Via Chicago” (whose opening line, “I dreamed about killing you again last night, and it felt all right to me,” is the creepiest moment of the evening), Maddin stops for a brief equipment casualty report: “So far tonight,” he says “we’ve broken two strings and punched a hole in our bass drum.”
Blowing Trees play Limelight Saturday, November 8 with the Cartographers and Buttercup.