I’ve been thinking a lot about the evolution of my music taste since I was young. I’m kind of at that weird age where I don’t feel quite like a kid but I definitely don’t feel like a grown up yet (or do we always feel that way?). I found myself listening to a lot of the old post-hardcore and punk music I liked back in the day, like The Early November and Circa Survive, but wanting something more; Like all of that old stuff should’ve grown up with me.
A Brief History of Math Rock (From My Perspective)
Turns out I wasn’t the only one dusting off old Saves the Day vinyls, and there were such bands out there. Emo revivalists like Tigers Jaw and Cymbals Eat Guitars grew with fans of the genre, and took it back to its very roots. On the more experimental and technical side of the spectrum, math rock was born. Gone was any sense of rhythm, and in its place choppy, neurotic riffs and breakdowns that enthrall you as you try to follow along. Pioneers like This Town Needs Guns (TTNG) and Enemies take a departure from the norm and and ask their listeners to think mathematically, to break the songs apart, and to reveal their complexities.
The history of math rock goes back way farther than post-hardcore or midwest emo, with roots in everything from jazz to prog rock and all the way back to 70s punk. You can read more about the history of math rock (from a real journalistic perspective) here.
…And Then There Was Tera Melos
Math Rock seemed like it had no rules. Then Tera Melos invented something all their own. Noisy, messy, twisted, and absolutely thrilling. Seeing them live is better than my already-high expectations. The eccentric time signatures and hypnotic electronics coupled with the rage of punk make for an unpredictable and fascinating show; The kind of performance where you don’t know if you should be dancing or staring in awe.
Due to its many influences, math rock shows always attract an eclectic and diverse group of people. But everyone there is on the same vibration; Drunk as hell, feeling groovy, and totally enraptured by the musical mastery.
Sprang Break Forever
Chon takes the stage. Framed by fake fluorescent palm trees, they introduce us to spring break on acid. Hints of reggae compliment jazzy melodies and progressive distortions, from slow, almost glowing, melodies to choppy breakdowns. The neon lights, the barbie trees, the summer ambiance — it all works together. Like their theme implies, they ride the turbulent waves of their nonsensical rhythm.
Chon is smoother around the edges than Tera Melos, but develops throughout the set, playing beachside bangers followed by deep, reverberating soundscapes. The packed crowd keeps up, going from a bouncing and swaying mass to a frenzy of flying limbs.
Their tour follows the June release of their second full-length album, “Homey,” a more laid-back, jauntier direction than the punkier tracks of previous albums. Songs like “Feel This Way” are more electronic than rock, almost to the likes of Pretty Lights. While I’m not entirely satisfied with the direction they’ve headed, “Homey” is still high on my list of summer jams.
The Southern California-natives brings the west coast to the east. They give us an intricate work of art, radiating the emotions of San Diego summers. It’s chill to listen to, explosive to dance to, and complex enough to make me step back and appreciate the brilliant minds that are carving their own path in the future of math rock.