The ‘Sco seemed like a strange place for Tortoise to play a concert last night, located in a basement on the hippie-rich Oberlin College campus.
The post-rock instrumental pioneers crammed their way onto the tiny stage last night and performed in front of what could very well be the next generation of Tortoise fans. Many of them appeared to be born not long before the band released its first album in 1994.
Opening with “Seneca,” the quintet seemed a little stiff, with a couple of noticeable, but minor, missteps that carried into “Gigantes.” But by the time they started playing “Eros,” it was clear that they were beginning to stretch out.
As they locked into the song, it was almost like the group was plucking the melodies out of time — like the music existed around them, as they coaxed the lines and pieces out whenever they wanted.
By “Monica,” the set's fifth song (which sorta evoked '90s west-coast hip-hop), Tortoise’s fell into the pocket, much to the delight of the swaying audience.
The band fell into a trance during “Charteroak Foundation” and held it through the racing and trippy “Dot_Eyes.”
And with the set-closing “Crest,” they moved seamlessly through the swelling music, enveloping the crowd in the tension before they left the stage.
Tortoise returned for an encore that started with the mellow “Speakeasy.”
The finale, “Salt the Skies,” was driving and energetic, and served as an exclamation point to the strong 90-minute show. —Adam Burroughs