There’s something admirable about a band that gives its all, even if it’s not playing to a full house. That was definitely the case last night at the Grog Shop when Bosnian Rainbows, a band featuring former Mars Volta/At the Drive-In guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, played to a sparse crowd of about 150 fans. While Rodriguez-Lopez has his loyal followers (something he acknowledged at the concert’s end when he thanked the audience for supporting his music), Bosnian Rainbows has yet to release an album, something that made this show seem a bit like a rehearsal of sorts even though the debut disc is recorded and due out this spring.
The 11-song set started slow but quickly picked up steam as barefooted singer Teri Gender Bender became more and more animated, eventually shedding his sweater as she broke into a sweat. The concert highlight was “I Cry for You,” a tune that allowed Rodriguez-Lopez to really shred while Bender screeched “and then I cry for you” over and over, howling with the visceral power of Patti Smith. By the time the hour-long set concluded with “Better Off Dead,” Bender was drenched in sweat, her eyeliner smeared down her face as if it were a statement to the angst-ridden performance. There’s a way in which Bosnian Rainbows is still nascent and not quite fully formed. But the way the band practically huddled together on stage in a small circle suggested the closeness that exists between members. Omar-Rodriguez clearly enjoys playing with the group, and the show had enough intensity to suggest there’s a strong camaraderie among band members that might yet turn into something more significant.
Anchored by a powerhouse drummer who was appropriately positioned at the center of the stage, Marriages, a band that sounded a bit like a punk version of Cocteau Twins, opened with an atmospheric set that droned more than it rocked.