Last night I was finally able to see Secret Chiefs 3 live.. SC3 is a band with a rotating cast of players, but is the brainchild of Mr. Bungle founding member and guitarist Trey Spruance (He also played guitar on the Faith No More album “King for a Day…. Fool for a Lifetime). Where as other members of Mr. Bungle, such as Mike Patton and Trevor Dunn are fantastically prolific, Trey has been somewhat reclusive, occasionally releasing an SC3 album and often doing limited touring behind it. Anyway, I’ve long been fascinated by SC3’s records and have been itching to seem the live for some time now. I was absolutely not disappointed..
Considering how infrequently the band plays out, it was amazing how tight they were.. Especially given the unusual time signatures and tunings they employ.. SC3’s music is a bit difficult to describe, and you can hear some samples over at their label, Web of Mimicry, who describes their sound as follows:
What does this all end up sounding like? You will hear a kick-ass surf band playing in Arabic/Persian tunings, and then switch over to a wall of Penderecki-style orchestral chord clusters accompanied by AC/DC. Then, perhaps the traditional sounding, pseudo-folk Turk/Central Asian imaginal band will hit center stage with Dhol, Saz, Rabab, Esraj and rock drums and start whacking out to the original, catchy songs that no one knows or cares are in 19/16 time. This might be followed by a totally pummeling, nightmarish, not-kidding one bit blast-beat Death Metal band that employs Boulez-ish atonal serialism, played in dastgah tunings, which of course will naturally segue into a band that specializes in Hindi Film Music from the second Golden Era… you get the picture. We’re scratching the surface here, not exaggerating. And again, it’s no joke.
Anyway, the band played a song or two as a trio, and then expanded into a 7 piece group for the remainder of the show. My view was partially obstructed, but I was very close to the stage.. They played for about an hour, switching instruments and roles throughout… And even though they were the opening act, they even had an encore (perhaps that makes them more of a ‘special guest’ than an opening act).. Afterwards, Trey was manning the merch booth, and I thanked him for the great set and bought a t-shirt. He seemed like a very pleasant man and was very gracious.
Unfortunately, I was too exhausted to stick around for the main act, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, who I hear is wonderful.. Fortunately, they tour all the time, so I hope to catch them in the near future. But I went to the show to see Secret Chiefs 3, and I wasn’t disappointed; It was one of the best shows I’ve ever been to.