NEWPORT MUSIC HALL
COLUMBUS, OHIO | APRIL 7, 2023
By Neil Shumate, OOTB Publications
Fans traveled along a trail of dynamic instrumental music led by prog-rock gurus Polyphia on Friday night. The band guided attendees through a pleasing auditory path on which dancing and crowd surfers were abundant.
Tim Henson’s guitar was personified as it transformed into a vocalist and MC. At any moment Henson’s Ibanez could have easily sung “The Star-Spangled Banner” in the screaming style of Hendrix’s Fender. After all, the Texans sported shirts that read: “America’s Band.”
Lyrics were unnecessary, but on occasion, guitarist Scott LaPage stepped up to the mic not to sing, but to speak in a way that energized the crowd and inspired surfing. Backlights and spiral lasers also enhanced the venue’s energy.
The stylistic four-piece performed mostly newer tracks from their latest release Remember That You Will Die, including: “Playing God,” “All Falls Apart,” (which included a crowd “sing along” response) and “The [“Fucking”] Audacity.”
Each song during the 90-minute set was distinct and independent with a beginning and an end—unlike instrumental jams that sometimes lack closure.
Sure there’s Explosions In The Sky, King Crimson, Animals As Leaders, Mogwai and others that share a similar experimental aesthetic having memorable tunings, sophisticated effects, and abrupt tempo changes; however, Polyphia stands out with its avant-garde instrumentation and fusion—at times laid back, at times danceable, at times neck breaking—of various genres: djent metal, groovy funk, smooth bluesy jazz, hip-hop and even some mariachi with the speed of Dick Dale.
Germany’s Unprocessed warmed fans up with prog metal in the realm of BTBAM and The Contortionist. The band closed with heavy finale “Haven” that contributed to the formation of a center pit filled with slam dancers before Polyphia took over the stage.
POLYPHIA (click photos to enlarge)