Bosnian Rainbows (feat. Omar Rodríguez-López of The Mars Volta)

Bosnian Rainbows (feat. Omar Rodríguez-López of The Mars Volta)

Bosnian Rainbows is a new band featuring Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes), Nicci Kasper (Kudu, KRS-ONE), Deantoni Parks (John Cale, The Mars Volta), and Omar Rodriguez Lopez (The Mars Volta, At the Drive-In). The group formed during the summer of 2012 and will release their self-titled debut LP in early summer 2013 on Sargent House. While the four members' respective pedigrees are as distinctive as the names they're attached to, the group itself is an entity all its own, unlike any other project any of them have been in. You could argue that they're using it to redefine their entire approach to making music.

This new approach also functions aesthetically. Onstage, the members group themselves together so closely that the backline, once assembled, is literally a single structure. Stalking the front of the stage is vocalist Gender Bender, a shape-shifting conduit of interstellar energy, seizing the microphone like a dagger. No stranger to the spotlight, her shamanistic presence in Bosnian Rainbows elicits a physical response from much of the audience, enraptured with her trance-like gesticulations and impassioned pleas. Behind her, Rodriguez Lopez conjures abbreviated barbs of dissonant funk from his guitar, lost, it seems, in the sheer ecstasy of the moment. In this context, his legendary status as a progressive rock icon seems virtually incidental, and much of what he's know for remote. To his left sits Parks, the human timepiece, playing the drum kit as nobody has before him. And, as if machine-like precision were simply par for the course, he is simultaneously playing a keyboard. Famously cool, Parks is the picture of control, effortlessly firing out rhythms at once both funky and robotic, unaware of the supposed impossibility of what he's doing. Which brings us to Nicci Kasper, the keyboard protégée, his concentration fixed on the task at hand. Masterful in focusing his instrument's infinite possibilities, be they incessant low-frequency throbs or soaring, symphonic flourishes, Kasper's contribution to the band's sound brings with it an emotional depth which can only be described as epic.

The story of Bosnian Rainbows is one you might typically expect to emerge from the fertile, cross-breeding ranks of constantly intermingling artists. Rodriguez Lopez befriended Gender Bender after seeing her duo, Le Butcherettes, perform in Guadalajara in 2009. While working on arrangements for that band's debut album, Sin Sin Sin, Omar (at first strictly producing, but eventually playing bass on the album as well) and Gender Bender discovered an inspiring collaborative spark between them. Around the same time, Rodriguez Lopez began a series of studio projects with Parks and Kasper during repeat trips through New York. Le Butcherettes, meanwhile, relocated to Los Angeles, and soon found themselves touring with Jane's Addiction, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Flaming Lips, and Deftones. Soon after, Rodriguez Lopez joined Le Butcherettes on bass as a fully-fledged member and in 2012, he released Octopus Kool Aid, the first of a series of solo albums featuring Gender Bender on vocals.
A tour of Europe in support of Octopus Kool Aid had been booked for August, so Rodriguez Lopez, Gender Bender, Kasper and Parks convened in a Hamburg studio in order to rehearse. Committed to distancing himself from the "dictator" role he'd become infamous for in The Mars Volta (as well as the ORLG), and reinvigorated from his recent stint in the reformed At the Drive-In, Rodriguez Lopez shifted gears, seizing the opportunity to start a new group. Rather than rehearse Octopus Kool Aid, the quartet spontaneously birthed a collaborative songwriting process which produced immediate, inspiring results. With each of the four contributing equally, the new group quickly developed its own direction and vision, taking on a life of its own. Omar is eager to point out that this group should in no way be mistaken for one of the many incarnations of his solo band.

Christening themselves Bosnian Rainbows, they embarked on the tour and set about developing their skills as a live band, refining their new songs and defining their aesthetic. By the time the tour ended, the web was buzzing with excitement. Invigorated by that success, the group ventured into Hamburg's Clouds Hill Studio that October and recorded what would be their debut album. The music they recorded is remarkable, haunting and powerful. Bosnian Rainbows is no less adventurous or fearless than the music the four of them have previously released, but perhaps it's more immediate, more accessible. The reference points are wild and varied: early 80s post-punk and new wave, corrosive synth-pop, and Peter Gabriel's So album being a noteworthy influence. The songs themselves are anthemic, yet still personal, from the grey-stained melancholia of "Worthless", through the widescreen, slow-burning drama and romance of "Turtle Neck", to the churning and intense catharsis of "Mother, Father, Set Us Free". It's clear, however, that these tracks are only a beginning; this is a group with abundant with life, a future that could stretch as far as they want it to.

Bosnian Rainbows have been on the road consistently since August 2012, touring extensively in North America, Europe, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. They made their U.S. festival debut at last September's Fun Fun Fun Fest, and appeared at Festival Vive Latino at Mexico City's Foro Sol Stadium in March 2013.

Sister Crayon

An off and on recluse, Terra Lopez spent countless hours in her Northern California bedroom each day, recording hundreds of gritty, personal demos with her classical guitar and MPC. Staring at the ceiling of her apartment, she taught herself how to sing by studying vocalists Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Jeff Buckley. It was during this time that Lopez started to form the sound and scope of what would become Sister Crayon. Shortly after, Lopez met Dani Fernandez and the two bonded over hip-hop and the MPC. Inseparable, the duo started collaborating and word spread quickly about Sister Crayon on the West Coast. Over the years, the project has undergone numerous lineup changes and been bolstered by the addition of live keys and drums. With drummer Omar Barajas in the mix, Sister Crayon's live show is passionate, dynamic and emotionally resonant.

Since Sister Crayon's debut release Bellow in 2011, Lopez and Fernandez have worked relentlessly to reinvent the project, with the focus shifting back towards its founding members. The two have honed in on the electronic side of things, centering more on Lopez's powerful, diverse vocal range while utilizing heavy beats and haunting melodies. Having toured nationally for most of 2012 with the likes of Built to Spill, The Album Leaf and Maps & Atlases, Sister Crayon went into the studio in late September to record the Cynic EP. The record is at times raw and inconsolable, inspired by Lopez's absent father and daily frustrations with the past. Sister Crayon's new body of work is unapologetic in its intensity, allowing them to create their most revealing work to date. Upon the release of Cynic, Sister Crayon plans to unveil a fresh live sound with tour dates in the Spring while also gearing up for their second full-length, set to be released in late 2013.

M.T. Bearington

Matt Thomas knows how to write a song—as evidenced in over a decade of music-making with the Weigh Down, Leaves of Lothlorien, Short Pants Romance, etc.

Sometime around 2006, he found himself in between projects, wondering what to do next. The answer came as soon as he got his hands on a Mac and discovered Garage Band.

He toiled and tinkered. He wrote and recorded one song. One song led to many. He shared a few with people. The people really liked them—particularly Jason Hammel of Mates of State, who encouraged Matt to put a band together to share a bill with the Mates and Carlos Wells, who released the collection of bedroom recordings as "A Cloak of Nouns and Loss" on Safety Meeting Records in 2008.

Three drummers, four bassists, three guitarists, and one trumpeter/keyboardist later—the Bearington Band remains busy as ever.

Their full-band, follow-up effort "Love Buttons" hits the shelves on Valentine's Day 2011. Produced by Fuzzy Rainbow (Fake Babies, Eula), with a hand from Greg Giorgio at Tarquin Studios (Interpol, The National), it's an upbeat collection of sonic musings on various forms of love—from the traditional to the twisted—through the eyes of characters real and fictional.


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