Playing their second-ever gig to an intimate crowd at the cozy Rainbow Bistro in the heart of the By Ward Market, Ottawa, R G B surprised some and impressed others with their unique approach to indie rock. Proving the point that music should go beyond its makers’ looks, the band proudly wears their full-bodied anonymity.
The boys of R G B clearly take life with a smile - though most wouldn’t necessarily know it - covered from head to toe in skin-tight red, green and blue spandex. Starting the night, the band walked in with modest shame, as the crowd took a moment to take in the suits’ full effect.
R G B opened the night with an eight song set, starting with an instrumental track quickly demonstrating their solid and creative musical style. While I wondered how they could possibly play guitar, bass or not drop a single drum stick with their hands covered in synthetic fabric, after a few minutes there was no doubt left that these guys have the skills.
Their sound is vaguely reminiscent of early Radiohead, with a heavier edge, and of Muse’s powerful vocals - two bands which R G B admits having as influences - but their music is certainly their own. Tunes like “Banana Republic” and “Song and Dance” are contagiously fun. The first starts with a syncopated 5/4 beat which later turns into a full-blown disco rhythm with tons of soul as lead-singer and guitarist, Blue, displays his impressive vocal talent. The second song had the singer ask for a little crowd support, offering a tambourine and a spot on the dance floor. The tune, beginning with open chords and awesomely melancholic vocals showed hints of Radiohead’s “Optimistic,” taking the audience along its groovy path.
Other noteworthy songs included “The Spire,” a highly original creation with tightly woven vocals and guitar, as well as distortion that simply filled up the auditory space and overwhelmed the senses; “Counting Sheep,” a very cute and cheerfully sweet ballad; and “Vikings,” a deliciously crawling tune. This closing song’s dreamy pre-chorus blending with its haunting vocals were taken to the next level as Green, on bass, and Blue really began grooving together, feeding off the crowd’s energy.
On the downside, a few rhythmic hiccups were overall well managed, and can easily be forgiven considering R G B’s young existence. On the other hand, the branding on the spandex suits, very obviously printed on the butt of the three band mates, took away from the carefully crafted illusion. Regardless, these minor setbacks did not significantly impact the quality of the band’s performance.
There is no doubt that R G B is an innovating force, both on the visual and musical fronts. The colours and sounds merge to create a captivating, new experience that is both original and accessible. Playing with conviction and confidence in a way that many others would not dare, the boys know how to have fun, interacting playfully with the crowd and reminding guests that they can always “grab our asses on the way out!”
Look out for these primary-coloured heroes at a venue near you!
--Nathalie J Caron--