Ann Arbor will groove three times over tonight with Stormy Chromer at the musical helm.
The Ypsilanti progressive jam quartet will host a fall hometown show at The Blind Pig with Biomassive and RADO filled with danceable improvisational rock, jazz, funk and electronica.
“We have a long list of covers that’s somewhere near 80 or 100 total. Every time we perform one, we log it into an Excel sheet. We’ve been going back over this past summer and looking at it to see which ones we can let fall by the wayside, so we have a few things up our sleeve in terms of things you haven’t heard us play in a long time,” said Ryan King, Stormy Chromer’s bassist.
“In terms of originals, we might have some new stuff for you. We’re not entirely sure if we’re going to be playing some of it live yet, but we have new material in the works.”
Along with bandmates Brendan Collins (lead guitar), Spencer Hanson (lead guitar) and Amin Lanseur (drums), King has grown his improvisational chops during a month-long mini-residency at the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids as well as several Michigan-based festivals and a tour out west.
“The goal for a long time was just to be comfortable enough doing it in front of a crowd and to be not doing it where they don’t stop moving,” said King, who’s racked up more than 30 original songs with Stormy Chromer. “I think that’s going to be the direction the band is headed in right now and trying to do something live that’s really unique and special at every show in terms of creating something that’s only gonna be there for that night.”
Together, Stormy Chromer started cutting their improvisational teeth after forming in 2014. Named after an accidental tribute to the legendary Michigan cap company, the band blends complex songwriting with real-time compositions to create a unique live experience. In true jam-style fashion, Stormy Chromer has performed a growing roster of live shows locally and nationally with unique nightly setlists for a dedicated fan base.
In August, that dedicated fan base lent an incredible helping hand to Stormy Chromer after their “Vandalf the Gray” touring van unexpectedly broke down in Iowa. The band quickly discovered the van’s transmission had died on their way to shows in Nebraska and Colorado, and they were stranded without any reliable transportation. After a local auto repair shop looked at the van, it estimated nearly $4,500 in repairs to replace the transmission.
In response, Stormy Chromer rallied together and launched a GoFundMe campaign to receive assistance with van repairs. In a matter of five hours, the band surpassed their $4,500 campaign goal and received more than $5,500 from fans.
“It’s incredibly humbling, and it was an amazing experience to watch those roll in. We all feel like we owe everyone a lot beyond trying to keep playing. We want to do something special to thank anyone who was a part of that and helped us out,” King said.
“Even though we made the $5,000, we briefly took it and put it up as a down payment on a van and to insure it. Once we are in a position here in a few months and when we build our capital back up, we’d like to do something, whether it’s a special line of merch of thank-you gifts for anyone who donated or some type of free concert to show our gratitude.”
With a new “Vandalf the White” for band transportation, Stormy Chromer will continue performing locally and touring across the country, including a Nov. 1 show at The Loving Touch with Paddlebots and Liquid Monk. They’ll also return to the studio soon to record a follow-up project to their previous jam-tastic releases, including their “Solid Sessions” EP (2018), first full-length album, “A Tale of Two Mouths,” (2016) and debut EP, “Peace of Pizza” (2015).
“I think next time we have our sights set on trying to do something really intentional in the studio. Our first two releases, our EP and album, were filled with songs we’ve been playing live just kind of stretched with improv. I stand by those albums, but I think we can do something a lot more artistic and cohesive,” King said.
“We started dipping our toes in that little bit. Our most recent studio album is an EP of three songs, and those songs were definitely crafted for a studio. Even though it’s only three songs, that’s kind of a more cohesive artistic statement than a full-length that we have out, so that’s what we’re thinking about in that regard.”
Another groovy element to tonight’s show will include the deep, intelligent beats of Traverse City jamtronica sextet Biomassive. They’ll bring their guitar-driven funk and jazz tunes fused with synthy improvisational jams to an eager Tree Town crowd.
“We’ve got some new guys playing with us this round, and we’re gearing up for Halloween. We’re doing our hometown spot at the Rare Bird, and we’re doing an ‘80s theme on Halloween, so we’re going to bust some of those out,” said Connor Lindsay, Biomassive’s keyboardist and synth player.
“We have a couple new songs, we’re in the process of recording a new album right now, it’s our sophomore album. We’re really excited, it’s been about three years since we’ve been in the studio.”
Biomassive released their full-length intergalactic space jam, “New Organic,” in January. The out-of-this-world album features seven dancy tracks encapsulated in an extended electronic key-synth-guitar fusion.
“They were a collection of songs that we’ve been playing live over time, and we originally recorded almost 13 tracks, but then cut it down to those so it flowed better,” Lindsay said. “We’ve been working on a backstory to the whole album, and we eventually want to release something explaining it. It’s definitely future sci-fi, and the next one will follow the story and saga of Biomassive.”
Biomassive’s story begins in 2012 with the membership of Randall Erno (bass), Ben Wyler (synth, keys), Shandon Williams (percussion), Matt Zimmerman (drums), Chris Burhop (guitar) and Lindsay. Together, the band blends catchy electronic beats with ground-shaking, sub-bass mechanics along with their talented musicianship.
Reminiscent of their Umphrey’s McGee and Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) influence, Biomassive fuses funk and progressive rock to arrive at an unparalleled sound. This anomalous Northern Michigan band redefines the sound of the electronic genre and plays distinctive covers and mash-ups ranging from The Grateful Dead to Gorillaz.
Biomassive’s electronic-focused sound also nicely complements the rock-jazz-funk fusion Stormy Chromer brings to their live shows. The two bands frequently share the same stage and bills at Michigan-based live shows and music festivals. In fact, tonight’s Blind Pig show will take that band-to-band kinship to the next level.
“We call them our sister band. From day one when we met them, we knew they were going to be our homies. Our keyboard player Ben Wyler just got married, and Stormy Chromer came all the way up to play the wedding,” Lindsay said. “Their natural vibe is people, and I think that’s why we’re so tight. We both obviously love to jam and improve and stuff like that.”
Stormy Chromer also developed a close musical kinship with the Denver-based improvisational quartet known as RADO. Short for Colorado, RADO is embarking on their first Midwest tour this week, including a stop tonight at The Blind Pig.
Comprised of Dylan Tuthill (guitar, vocals), Danny Chapa (guitar), Kevin MacKinnon (bass, vocals) and Zach Bulgarelli (drums), the band melds ferocious guitar-driven psychedelic rock with syncopated dance grooves and stylistic melodies while including thoughtfully-crafted lyrics and vocal hooks.
RADO formed earlier this year when Tuthill and Chapa met each other at a Denver venue and teamed up to jam in a basement at 3 a.m. that same night. Their instant friendship quickly led to another musical encounter with MacKinnon and Bulgarelli at a follow-up open jam they hosted.
“We started writing some music, and it was just like the two guitars turned into something that is exceptionally unique about RADO, which is why I really like Stormy Chromer a lot, too,” said Tuthill, who originally hails from Bloomfield Hills. “We really work together in a way that there’s not rhythm and lead. There are constantly two melodies that are intertwining and interweaving it.”
Through their groove-centric music, RADO builds intense improvisational jams that reach soaring and everlasting peaks filled with dance, funk, rock, psychedelic, prog and jazz influences. It’s an abundant mashup of genres fans can hear through their latest improv gems, “Run N’ Hyde” and “Livin’ Out Loud.”
“‘Run ‘N Hyde’ was one of the first things I ever wrote on the guitar. It wasn’t just a chorded out sort of thing. I was learning the pentatonic scales, and I was trying to come up with riffs that sounded cool,” Tuthill said. “I think some of my most creative stuff can come from a little darker place. The song is about two polar people, and Hyde is used in two ways like hiding and Hyde and Jekyll.”
After their Midwest tour, RADO wants to officially record their two latest singles and write additional new material to share with live audiences.
“Right now, we’re just focused on building our catalog. We want to be able to do a tour and play different songs every single night and not have to repeat a bunch of songs,” Tuthill said. “I just love writing music, and I probably got five or six songs that we’re still working on.”
Stormy Chromer with Biomassive and RADO
8 p.m. tonight
The Blind Pig, 208 S. First St. in Ann Arbor