TVD Live: Trans Am, Zombi, Jonas Reinhardt at Baby’s All Right, 4/18

PHOTOS: JAMIE LANGLEY | If you had asked me at any point over the past decade or so whether I know of Trans Am, I would have answered: YES. LOVE.

Thus when I saw they were playing Baby’s All Right last Thursday, I made a deliberate note on the calendar and insisted we go even though Alex and I were also playing a show that night. We threw our gear in the car, ditched it at our practice space, and hustled over to Baby’s to catch Zombi half way through their set.

I am embarrassed to admit, at first glance I assumed Zombi was Trans Am. There were not so many people on stage and the drummer was solid, which is what I mainly remember about Trans Am, and they had that electronic-rock vibe. But they took a more expansive drone toward the end, which clued me in, and also when Alex laughed at me. His relationship with Trans Am runs deeper than mine. Back in 2004, Alex and his roommate spent a two-week period watching Wimbledon on mute while listening to Trans Am. Good times.

The Zombi set was really great, we thoroughly enjoyed it. Some of our friends had actually come just to see them and left after, but we stayed on.

In reality, it’s been over a decade since I’d seen Trans Am or listened to any of their records, so seeing them last Thursday was like seeing them for the first time, without any pretense, and it was really great and refreshing.

Everything they did got to be unexpected and exciting, like the drummer Sebastian Thomson positioned up front and center and how methodic, powerful, animalistic but perfectly precise he drums. It’s one thing to hear great drumming on a record, but a whole other thing to see it in front of you. Thinking to yourself, “Fucking hell, he’s really doing that, here, live in front of me.” He mesmerizes and puts you in a trance, then snaps you out of it at the end by yelling out just once, “Whooo!” I couldn’t help but laugh and yell out myself.

There is comedy, lightness and joie de vivre to these men and their music in the face of driving and thriving precision that obviously has taken years to master. I really got into that duality—this intensity laid next to the sense that they just don’t take themselves too seriously. As the drummer slayed and pulverized the drums, the keyboardist and vocalist, Nathan Means, leaned up against the wall casually eating what looked to be Kale salad on stage, gracefully coming back to his collection of keyboards when he was needed. Later in the set, he sang really great songs through somewhat ridiculous vocal filters, and there it is again—a sincerity in song just turned on its head.

These guys have achieved legendary status in their longevity and numerous records, and you really feel it from the stage. The energy of the performance never breaks and it has that tightness and precision that comes only from years of playing together, and seemingly it is simply because they love to do so.

They said it all at the end, “Thank you, we have nothing for sale.”

YES. Trans Am. LOVE.




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