This was my first time seeing El Ten Eleven. The LA-based post rock (even though they hate being categorized) duo recently released its fifth full-length album Transitions, a fast-paced hypnotically layered ten-track.
Kristian Dunn plays a Wal fretless bass and a guitar/bass doubleneck, using multiple loop and effects pedals to create full sounds. Tim Fogarty has his drum kit fed into some of the pedals, giving Kristian the ability to control loops on that as well. By the way — this is all done live. No samples, no pre-recorded loops. They made it a point to make sure the audience knew this. Without dropping names, they were able to subtly bash artist who essentially just hit the play button on their Mac.
As a matter of fact, when a mic went out on stage they decided to do an improv song. Kristian asked the audience for a key to play in, and major or minor. This led into an album-worthy rendition he dubbed “Raleigh in F minor.” This equated to the best stage banter I’ve heard, and compensated for when he tried to say something generic like “so how about that local sports team?” to the audience. Usually this wouldn’t have stricken a nerve, but he got booed for that comment. Apparently only NC State fans were at the show. (Our football team unfortunately lost to UNC for the first time in six years, and it was also their first in-state win of the season.) I forgive you, Kristian.
I couldn’t stop smiling or dancing the entire show. Seeing how the songs came together was incredible and added a lot to the experience of listening to them, live or at home. The projection panels behind them intensified the beats. Plus, being surrounded by zombies, mimes and a Bob Ross was great.
A little after 1:00AM, Kristian announced that they would be playing their final song — they’re “real” final song. He called other artists out for “faking” the encore, the say goodbye but let’s still leave our instruments on stage and walk back out after we let the audience tell us how much they love us for approximately 75 seconds. From the opener “Thanks Bill” (my favorite) to the last note of the last song, the band was on point and engaging. I’m looking forward to catching them again sometime.