Words by Dan Petito | Photos by Ryan Pickering
For a project that has gone through a handful of facelifts over the years – the newest iteration consisting of a drummer you may not have ever seen play with them – Conspirator manages to find an interesting niche, bridging the creative gap between dubstep and pure electronic dance music.
It’s definitely safe to say Conspirator is now a band and not a project anymore; they’re busier than people may have thought. Apart from their sizeable tour they’re just about approaching the last leg of, we got a chance to connect with bassist Marc Brownstein to hear the news of an upcoming EP they’re working on and also caught the news that, as people may or may not have guessed, KJ Sawka is officially the band’s permanent drummer.
The band landed at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston this past weekend, a place they seem to fill up pretty easily. The bill was split four ways with the support of Boombox and two of UK producer Russell Davies’ projects, Abakus and Cinnamon Chasers. With the stage warmer than most show-goers are used to (3 openers isn’t exactly usual practice) Conspirator decidedly dug into their old catalogue very little and jumped into a lot of newer material that, from scanning the crowd periodically, seemed to resonate well.
‘Commercial Amen’ made its way onto the set list, a song from the early Conspirator days that flexed its muscles a lot when the project didn’t have much of a choice, but now it seems as though the Conspirator catalogue is growing at a rapid rate and showing off new potential and new-found influences. Brownstein mentioned to us at the show about the rise of new material explaining, â€œWe have a new EP coming out imminently, tentatively titled Pow-Wow. It features 3 of our newer songs and a remix. Brownstein further explained that they’re currently figuring out the best way to get it to the masses for free and it’s no wild guess that some of those tracks made it live this past weekend in Boston.
Aside from a great classic making its way into the live arena some new, unfamiliar tracks surfaced this weekend, all of which seem to find the band exploring a new direction in the deeper realms of electronica and dubstep. Whether or not you like it of course depends on your preference of music but it’s simple to say that if dubstep and heavy bass isn’t your thing, you may have had trouble finding something likeable to latch onto Saturday night. The band definitely succeeded in the sense of maximizing the energy levels at the ‘Dise, made evident by hands constantly thrown into the air and people noticeably jumping up and down during moments it just made sense to do so.
With the project now officially taking the shape of a full-time band, and coupled with their performance at the Paradise, it seems safe to say that Conspirator’s goal is to tap even deeper into the electronic music scene, with the potential risk of losing some of the jam-band community that is perhaps less open-minded when it comes to the music and influences Conspirator looks to be drawing from as of late. Despite who they may or may not be trying to appeal to it was clear just from looking at the stage that the four of them are playing music they want to play, all bringing something equal to the table.
Conspirator’s two hour or so set was filled with other theatrics outside of just the music; mohawked drummer KJ Sawka occasionally jumped out of his seat during various high points, throwing his sticks in the air turning the energy knob one click higher. I attempted to look at KJ’s back or anywhere on him that seemed fishy whenever I found a good enough window, curious to spot a battery or plug I assumed he was hooked up to. It was difficult to believe a human could do some of the things KJ Sawka did to his drum set this weekend, let alone the entire tour. Amazing drummer.
Overall the band seems to have their foot on the gas form every perspective including locking down its core members. This weekend’s performance was a definite signal of what 2012 holds for Conspirator – topping their success and reception from 2011 (easily considered their biggest year to date) and more importantly, venturing much further outside the dance/rock fusion sandbox.
TheWaster.com | Boston