Saturday, April 04, 2009

J. Viewz @ Barby

My first thought, as I chugged down some beers during the long wait before the start of the show, was that it takes some balls to play a weekend gig without an opening band. Only a band that was fully confident in their frenzy-making abilities would do something like that, I thought while waiting for the venue to slowly fill up.

J. Viewz are a tight, slick outfit, with Jonathan Dagan (aka J. Viewz) and drummer Yoni Halevi acting undoubtedly as the co-captains of the performance. Dagan operates the laptop-driven wizardry that sequences the set, and also handles lead guitar, turntables and cheerleading duty, while Halevi's powerful, seamless drumming anchors the complex array of rhythms and sounds in the band's music. I personally prefer J. Viewz's more downtempo, house-influenced material, but it's clear that based on their live setup and more recent releases that they prefer to go the jazz/funk route. Although the songs leave plenty of room for improvisation, I feel that the sequencing holds them back a bit, because naturally it's hard to improvise while also relying on pre-programmed backing tracks.

The makeup of the audience was also suspended between a couple of extremes, mixed between people who came to dance and get with the funk, and people who came to observe and appreciate (i.e. jazz fans). J. Viewz are getting away with a perilous but fascinating balancing act and so far they're succeeding, but it'll be interesting to see how long they can keep this up.

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