Be Careful What You Wish For, You Just Might Get It

By Maddelena Rubini

EvolutionofthemMindIn a strange confluence of circumstances, Advocate editors approved a show review. Typically, we profile artists or preview events. It’s our small contribution to Corvallis’ arts and entertainment scene. However, we were feeling ornery the day a  member of a local band challenged us to quit our superlative ways and come to his Tuesday night gig for some real musical discourse. We don’t usually negotiate with terrorists, but he did invite us. Anything short of attending would have been rude.

Evolution of the Mind, a guitar and bass duo, derives its inspiration from multiple genres, including rock, blues, funk, folk, and jam traditions. During this particular show, Chris Farrell, guitarist, and John Hroza, bass player, served up a veritable goulash of covers and originals to an intimate seven-person audience, two of who were children, at Dock 22.

I arrived with my partner-in-crime halfway through a cover of “Come on,” also known as “Let the Good Times Roll,” by New Orleans bluesman Earl King. Waiting for my pints, I noticed that the tempo was decidedly slower than the original. The delicate art of cover songs dictates some degree of reinterpretation so as to maintain audience interest and skirt copyright violations. However, Evolution’s muttered lyrics and dirge-like pace failed to convince anyone that this was indeed a good time.

As it turns out, mumbled crooning and contemplative strumming are Evolution of the Mind’s contributions to the field. Hroza’s vocals are more articulate than Farrell’s. The former’s versions of “Lodi” by Creedence Clearwater Revival and “Presence of the Lord” by Blind Faith nearly convinced me that these were gentle, stripped-down renditions inviting listeners to linger in the music. However, Farrell’s turn at the mic inevitably brought us back to earth. His lyrical adaptation of Eric Clapton’s “After Midnight” stumbled along like a junkie on the nod, which perhaps signifies the dark side of the 70s and Clapton’s personal struggle with addiction.

Any benefit of the doubt disappeared when Farrell broke into the most depressing version of “Tell Him” by the Exciters that I’ve ever heard. That sassy, assertive message, performed by an adorable 60s girl group, turned into the lamentation of one who failed to act. Imagine Victorian spinsters gone mad from the loss of true love, rocking themselves in a dusty attic corner. “Tell him… tell him… you’re always going to love… him.”

At this point in the set, two things came to mind: Marilyn Manson and Ozzy Osbourne. Manson is well known for juxtaposing innocuous covers and his guilty pleasure brand of horror rock. This recontextualization illuminates overlooked meaning, thus exposing the pop canon’s insanity. Perhaps Evolution shares a similar theory.

I can’t say definitively because the overall performance that Tuesday night at Dock 22 jogged a gin-shrouded karaoke memory from Columbus, OH, ca. 2002. A besotted Mickey’s Bar regular took the stage with an Ozzy Osbourne ballad. I don’t remember the song, just that we held our collective breath as he slurred through some 10 minutes of metal eternity. Toward the end, the crowd realized that, in his head, in that moment, Drunk Dude was the self-appointed Prince of Darkness.

I will never doubt someone’s transformative experience at the hands of music, regardless of the genre. This is why I will not doubt for one minute that Evolution of the Mind is sonically shaping the content of their souls to share with the public. After all, Hroza and Farrell are pretty good at their respective instruments; picking bell-like chords during their original pieces, and working in time with each other. Unfortunately, the set was dominated by the curious sensation of listening to a mixed tape on a dying Sony Walkman. Low key is important for a space the size of Dock 22, but Evolution has redefined the word.

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3 thoughts on “Be Careful What You Wish For, You Just Might Get It

  1. Wow, any press is good press…maybe. Maybe not. Anyway it has to be some kind of achievement to get a full page of words in your estimable publication.

    So, yeah, check out our videos…..some people actually like our music.

    Chris Farrell, Evolution of the Mind…:

  2. We’re really not into horror rock at all. John’s into a lot of early sixties music like Sam Cooke, and I’m into the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, Neil Young, the Band, ….so yeah, no Prince of Darkness, Marilyn Manson thing going on. Maybe I was having a downer of a day, which makes my voice worse (than usual).

  3. veritable means “genuine” or “actual”….so what is a “veritable goulash”? A genuine goulash, like our music is actually a soup ? Makes no sense. Use a different adjective.

    Why did two children show up to see a Marilyn Manson show?

    I reinterpret songs to sing them the way I want them to sound. All of musicianship is a process or reinterpreting music.

    My mom and the guy with the two kids are two of our biggest fans…..

    I wouldn’t describe John’s vocals as being articulate. He can belt out the lyrics as well as Otis Redding or Sam Cooke, which puts him in elite company.

    Why did my turn at the mic bring it “inevitably” back to earth? Inevitably means that something is going to happen that has to happen in the end. I guess “inevitably” would work here if you had already heard my singing and knew it was going to be awful, or knew the whole show was going to be awful before you showed up. Otherwise you are using a word that doesn’t work here.

    I mean it’s cute to tack on random words that sound literary and hip in some way, but if the words don’t really fit, it’s just bad writing. Good writing may use long or unusual combinations of words, but the meanings fit with the context.

    “Lyrical adaptation” sounds like something good……but what was “lyrical” about it if you hated it? Lyrical: expressing the writer or artist’s emotions in a beautiful or evocative way. If you’re going to use that adjective, you need to use it in regard to something positive. The way you used it here is just wrong, in regard to your later opinion. Maybe a adjective like “bone-jarring”, or “awful” would work better.

    Like I said, John sang “Tell Him”.

    This recontextualization illuminates overlooked meaning, thus exposing the pop canon’s insanity.: this sentence is devoid of meaning. It sounds like something I used to write when finishing an overdue paper in a hurry, with the intention of confusing the teacher so much that she/he would think I was brilliant.

    What’s the pop canon’s insanity? First of all, there’s no pop canon. Canon: A general law, rule, principle, or criterion by which something is judged. or 2.A collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine:
    So for there to be a pop music canon, there’d have to be some kind of accepted list of sacred pop songs….so canon makes no sense here.

    Our own real theory is to play songs in a way that sound good, which isn’t much of a theory. And songs that have some kind of meaning or sense I can relate to.
    I’d say we have nothing to do with Manson. Never listened to her stuff. And we have no kind of intellectual desire to reinterpret anything in a clever way. The songs are just being played the way they are because John or I want to play them that way. So yeah, those couple of sentences sound like something you’d put in a sociology paper, but they have no relation to anything about us. And they make no sense at all, all the better to confuse whatever T.A. is trying to grade your paper.
    At some point you have to move beyond this and eliminate the attempts to seem literary and witty and actually get into writing in a way that had actual meaning, logic, and get to the point in a way that excludes extraneous words and words that don’t really fit. Keep working on the writing. It’ll improve. As of now, it needs work.
    Paper rewrites: $40/hr. See me.

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