Subtle Show Review

Posted February 25, 2005 in

A New White Tour
Monday, Feb. 21st 2005

For those who have had the opportunity to attend any live shows at Kilby Court know that it can sometimes lead to an odd assembly of strangers with one common intent: to experience their favorite artist’s music in an intimate atmosphere. However, “odd” is an understatement for these particular artists.

On the night of Feb. 21, traveling all the way from Portland, Ore., Subtle stopped in Salt Lake City for a little visit and what was to be their third show on that of a 24-stop U.S. tour. The head count was 16 when I first arrived, which swiftly grew to a 35+ crowd. A sufficient group of boys, girls, moms and dads filled the frigid Kilby to witness the six individually talented puzzle pieces who like to call themselves “Subtle”. When these pieces are connected, it’s the kind of puzzle you glue together and nail to the wall for all to see.

The Subtle six consists of Adam“DoseOne”Drucker: artist, prop-master, keyboard, words; Jeffrey“Jel”Logan: drum&bass machine, mpc; Marty Downers: bass clarinet, tenor sax, keyboard, flute; Dax Pierson: melodica, synth, auto-harp, bells, sampler, keys; Alexander Kort: electric cello, upright bass; and Jordan Dalrymple: live guitar, and drum kit.

Before the show, I sat down with Jeff a.k.a. “Jel” to talk about the tour and the direction Subtle is going. “We have been working on three new videos for A New White and they’ll be out soon. One is about aliens who come flying over Denver, come out of their little spaceships and start sucking all the power out of the city,” Jel says enthusiastically. I asked him about Alexander Kort (electric cello) working with Sole on Selling Live Water. He stated, “yeah, Sole stole him from us for about a year, that’s why the album didn’t come out sooner, but I’m not mad. Sole and Alex did great work together.” After the brief chat, the guys consumed their curry/tofu/cigarettes and the show began.

All six approached the prop-littered stage consisting of winged skulls, upside-down trees, mannequin arms, and a shoulder cast topped off with a human skull with surprises inside. They were curiously dressed in color coordinated, white uniforms. Wearing “the cured skin of a famous white rapper that he ordered from the back of Vibe magazine” and apparently “used Bright Eyes' left index finger as payment.” Dose One greeted the intimate crowd, confessing that it was their first show in Utah.

The first song, “Jr’s Band” started off softly, and then exploded with beautiful melodies and complex entanglements of samples. The crowd moved as though the venue was actually being held on a boat out at sea.

Amid the sweat and convulsions lay Dose One with his four microphones in which to complement his multiple personalities and running-in-place raps. The aura was electric. Halfway through the performance, Dose attested that his “whole rap career started here in Utah;” in a place we all miss: Function. Yes, the boys at Function helped with the manufacturing of Hemisperes. “Yeah, they messed up the spelling on the album cover, so I just ended up calling it Hemis-peres, thanks guys.” Pelt, the Dose One activity book was also published and printed here in Utah.

The show continued with striking electricity, elaborate beats, and sporadic raps blended with gentle vocal harmonies. Subtle played every song from their new LP (A New White) and some favorites from the four “season” EPs(now out of print). At the end of the Subtle spectacle, they all walked off stage while the music continued to play and left the crowd drooling for more.

Anyone who picks up A New White might be confused for a long period of time, but if you ever come across the chance to see Subtle live, you just might discover that there is a method to the madness.