December 3, 2009

Live Review: Treedom

Tasty World // Athens, GA // Nov. 18, 2009

Unlike most genre names, the moniker of “jam band” says nothing about a band’s actual music or what style it truly is. As a result, it serves as an easy way for detractors of jam-oriented music to dismiss groups’ artistic credibility in one fell swoop. Yeah, some jam bands meander pointlessly, but in reality, many of them have plenty of musical depth and diversity to offer.

Take Treedom, for instance. Yes, they “jam,” and their songs are mostly devoid of vocals, but the style that runs through their music is heavily influenced by psychedelic and progressive rock, utilizing unusual chord structures and timbres and delivered with a distinct streak of drama and tension. Elements of funk popped up from now and then, but put simply, Treedom is one of the darker jam bands I’ve heard.

Singer and lead guitarist Brent Ducote was the uncontested engine of the band, capable of fluid, multi-modal shredding in the vein of Trey Anastasio. However, he also tempered his proficiency with a taste for melodic structure that drew from David Gilmour. Most of Treedom’s ambitious, mind-twisting passages sprung from Ducote’s lead work. Rhythm guitarist Taylor Lorio mostly stayed out of the spotlight but provided a lithe, textural counterpoint (a la Bob Weir) to Ducote’s melodies.

Bassist Travis Dorsey provided most of the band’s funk influence on the low end – alternating between manic slap riffs and bright, busily picked basslines – and drummer Chad Danklef provided an explosive, ever-changing anchor to the sound, his subtle rhythmic variations often affecting the entire mood of the jam.

The set was mostly experimental; over half of the material Treedom played was brand new and had never been played live before. Though the songs were still in their infancy, they translated well to the audience. For the most part, nothing came across as undercooked or half-formed.

Treedom certainly has a firm grasp on what it takes to build and maintain momentum across ambitious, winding song structures, and it will be interesting to see what new musical heights the quartet will reach in the future.

-John Barrett

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