As of late, the music world has been seized by a new wave of electronic music that has caused disc jockeys to come out of the woodwork. However, while many flock to their computers and turntables, there are still some musicians out there who are working to achieve an electronic sound while using more “conventional” instruments.
One such band is Conspirator, which performed April 27 at the Trocadero Theatre and proved that DJs don’t have to be handy with a Mac to play great electronic music.
Though Conspirator was formed in 2004, it has only been within the last year and a half that the group has begun to make a name for itself in the electronic music community.
Regarded as the side project of Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner, the respective bassist and keyboardist of notable jam band the Disco Biscuits, Conspirator was typically only known within the jam band community, playing late-night shows or the odd festival set.
However, with the Disco Biscuits on break from touring since 2011, Brownstein and Magner have set out to enhance Conspirator’s reputation, hoping to have it grow into one of the top live electronic acts touring today.
The Disco Biscuits have made Conspirator a consistent four-piece group with former RAQ guitarist Chris Michetti and a rotating cast of drummers from all over the jam band and electronic music communities, including Mike Greenfield (Lotus), Darren Shearer (The New Deal), Adam Dietch (Lettuce & Pretty Lights) and KJ Sawka (Pendulum), among many others.
Conspirator returned to Philly to promote its new live album, “Unlocked — Live from The Georgia Theatre,” onstage at the Troc, a huge step up from the band’s last show at The Blockley. Though they were unable to sell out the show, they made sure to reward those in the crowd with an amazing two-set rager.
With drummer KJ Sawka, who also did a half-hour solo set for set break, Conspirator started out slow, playing somewhat rigid versions of “Fascinate” and “Flash Mob.” From “Flash Mob” came an amazing segue into a very fast-paced and intense sequence of “Brooklyn Bridge,” “Hard Acid,” “Oname Wa” and “Park Ave.”
The “Oname Wa” was something particularly special, having a new drum-and-bass feel to it. After “Park Ave.” the first set was rounded out with a great transition into a sequence of “Countach,” “Proper Education (a cover of Pink Floyd)” and “Feed the Wolf.”
For the second set they spared no time and launched full throttle into an incredible “Hoodwinker,” which then flowed into a sequence of “Oname Wa,” “Caves of the East,” “Digital Buddha,” “Need Someone,” “Velvet Red,” and the end of “Proper Education” and “Velvet Red.” After finishing out the set with “S&M,” the band came back on for a quick encore performance of “Mirrors.”
While there is no denying that the show was amazing, it also served as a reminder of one of the biggest problems that the group faces. Many fans look at Conspirator as an unsuitable version of the Disco Biscuits. Conspirator has a heavier, more electronic sound than the Disco Biscuits, and as long as they continue to cover the Disco Biscuits (six out of the 15 songs played at this concert were Disco Biscuits songs), committed Conspirator fans will continue to be confused and irritated.
Following their show April 28 in New York, they will be taking a two-week break before doing a quick run of shows in Virginia and Washington, D.C. with Big Gigantic drummer Jeremy Salken. Next up, Conspirator will be playing at a number of music festivals, including Starscape, Gathering of the Vibes and All Good.