Bell’s Brewery. The words alone are like a Pavlov’s Dogs experiment for any native Michigander. Bell’s is my personal favorite brewery on the planet and I subscribe to the notion that you haven’t truly lived until you’ve had a Hopslam straight off the tap. They’ve always featured music in a huge way at this place, but it’s undergone an astounding transition to a full-fledged music venue destination. They reportedly put over a million dollars into their new music room. It shows. And hears. I’d been to shows at Bell’s in the past, but this was my very first time in the new room. There was no good reason for it to take this long for me, but let’s just say it was worth the wait; the new Bell’s Eccentric Cafe is absolutely glorious.
A Digital Tape Machine show is a pretty rare thing. Sure, they’ve played a number of shows since their inception in 2010, but they’ve never really launched a legitimate tour. There’s that other band kinda taking up their time… something McGee? It was the combination of the rarity of their performances and my urgent craving for a show at Bell’s that lit a fire under my ass and got me to Kalamazoo.
If there’s one thing that stands out in my DTM experience, it’s how much better they’ve sounded each and every time. If there was no such thing as Umphrey’s McGee, there’s no doubt that DTM could be a touring force on their own. They’re that good. What’s also become apparent is the fact that, despite their seven piece arrangement, this is Kris Myers’ band. He drives this jam-electronic bulldozer with an acute ability to change tempos and construct tension like few drummers can. But that’s not to take away from the other guys who contribute to the insanely nuanced strata of sound. You know Marcus Rezak shreds all over this shit, like the guitar tornado he is.
The flow of their show is wildly enhanced from where they began, with My Boy Elroy putting his sharp electronic production skills to great use by fusing everything together in a beautiful way; it’s really Elroy’s influence that seems to have coalesced the whole group. This show glided through a large chunk of their catalogue, while focusing on a slew of new material that sounded like a completely natural progression. The true highlight of the show was the encore, where Elroy started things off with yet another killer beatbox. It’s so awesome that Elroy beatboxes so often these days, he’s really, really good at it. The beatbox transitioned to a completely unexpected cover of Daft Punk’s “Robot Rock.” I’ve never even heard them play a cover before… so they go and drop a Daft Punk track. Damn. That was one hell of a move, and a bombastic way to wrap this incredible show. I really hope DTM starts playing more shows; this is easily one of the best live electronic groups out right now.