[Words by Adam Christie, Photos by Aaron Engler]
Unlocked: Live from the Georgia Theatre is a live recording of the super group Conspirator‘s inspiring performance at the venue aforementioned in the album’s title. The album takes the listener on a wild and jammed out cruise up and down heavy guitar riffs & solos, crazy synth lines & samples, all over the backbone of bass guitar and drum beats that are sure to make any jamband fan zone into a world of head bobbing and pure enjoyment. And might even make you wanna flip your desk and rage if you listen to it at work.
The album starts off with the playful riffs of “Park Ave”, upon which Mike Greenfield (drums) starts directing the band into an almost mysterious warm up of sounds. “So Much More” starts with a haunting and reverberating sample accompanied by hard guitar riffs & cymbal heavy drum lines, which transforms into a synth-backed jam with major face-melting capabilities. The band builds up and breaks down throughout the song, with the bass of Marc Brownstein always accentuating the heavy riffs laid down by Chris Michetti. Conspirator molds the end of the song perfectly into “Velvet Red,” a funked-out jam sure to get your feet moving and heart racing. “Velvet Red” would be the perfect song to put on during a bicycle commute to work. The fast paced drums would definitely help me get the lead out on a morning ride, and the meandering guitar solos might even inspire you to wink at that random girl on the vintage blue Schwinn.
If your commute is only about six or seven minutes away, you may reach your destination exactly when “Feed the Wolf”s power begins, and you may just throw both hands in the air like you just won the Chicago Marathon. The track has awesomeness written all over it, with a very catchy guitar riff, dancey synth lines from Aron Magner, and a reciprocating drum line that makes the song cling to your cerebrum like THC to a fat cell. This goes directly back into “Velvet Red,” back to the funky guitar and synth line. This time, the listener is confronted with more experimentation with peaks and valleys in the rhythm, and before you know it Michetti’s guitar is barking out notes and completely destroying anything in its path. And just like that as quick as the song came on, the two-minute-plus guitar solo ends sharply and abruptly, leading you into “S & M.” Like “So Much More,” the song starts with a repeating sample before slipping into a powerful guitar line. You can really feel the bands chemistry within this track. At a little over four minutes, I kind of wish it was a 20 minute powerhouse, but Conspirator’s driving pace makes the song short & sweet. I would have to say that this track has single-handedly sold me on the brute strength of this band.
February 17th at Congress Theatre in Chicago
Then “Commercial Amen” starts with a very laidback piano line and immediately transforms into a feverishly tempo’d track that makes you feel like you are lost in a maze of music. Tripped out sounds of a man speaking are faintly played, almost too soft to even be audible, but loud enough to change the vibe of the song into a hallucinogenic frenzy of guitar licks. This track is a serious stand out to me, maybe because of its difference in qualities from everything else prior to it, but the song in my opinion figuratively pushes the reset button on everything the band did prior in the performance and brings the tempo up & down with no regard for public safety.
Conspirator kicks off “Countach” with a moderately paced two step beat and reverberating synth lines, and before you know it the song opens up into a wide soundscape of creativity. This song captures the feelings of being at a live show so well that the listener of it could close his or her eyes and envision a packed venue glowing with an illuminated technicolor audience sweating and dancing into the wee hours of the night. “Proper Education” picks up where “Countach” left off and even before the Pink Floyd sample from “Another Brick In The Wall” is played, you can feel the Floydian vibes of the track envelope your ears. The song changes into a jammed out version of “Brick” before long and teleports listeners into a field of funk & movement.
February 17th at Congress Theatre in Chicago
Before your mind even has a chance to fathom what just happened, the pace is switched once again to a heavy and powerful one, and “Gypsy Lane”‘s powerful synth lines capture your ear drums and almost control your body with its fast paced drops and climbs, making this track one of those tracks that you very well could bust any variety of move to. If I was listening to this song live, I would probably go from sprinkler to monkey to shopping cart over and over again, but like I said, this track just inspires movement! Sure to make you tired, so if you’ve ever got a surplus of built up energy, just put this song on repeat and you will surely be winded after the second time it is played. Conspirator concludes Unlocked with another ultra danced out version of one of their songs. “Retrograde” opens up with a sample of a woman singing “close my eyes / just be free” which helps this track become a glorious musical climax and a way to let a listener off the wild ride that this live album has been.
All in all, as a whole Unlocked: Live from the Georgia Theatre is as amazing as it is varied, and it deserves to be played in its entirety. It is best listened to in one sitting, as each track accentuates and opens the gates for the next. Do yourself a favor and pop this one on during a chill house party to liven things up, or listen by yourself and get those creative juices and motivation flowing.