Redrick Sultan’s album release a night of technical wizardry

Redrick Sultan Band Pic - Wide Wreck Beach
Photo by Kentaro Chiba

“We just heard a Sprïng riff!” a particularly astute Jo Passed fan gleefully cried after a few seconds of soundcheck guitar-noodling. The band hadn’t even begun playing yet, and the hype was already high at the Cobalt last Thursday night.

The Sprïng Superman blew in on an electric cloud, opening Redrick Sultan’s album release for Fly as a Kite with Jo’s signature thunderclap rock, time-changing melodies, scorching climaxes, and warped funk, all packed into their first song, “Spring”.

Despite those idiosyncrasies, Jo’s newer songs, from last January’s solo EP, Out, were much heavier and less melodically focused than his established oeuvre which is more delightfully weird.

Still, the weightier atmosphere did not prevent the crowd from moving. The sunken waltz of “No, Joy (I’m Not Real, Girl)” sent fans in the front row into blissed out twirls, swaying with their arms slung over each other’s shoulders. Jo’s final song, the mechanical, wound-up “Lego My Ego”, sustained that communal, possibly more than platonic mood, but injected the crowd with a dose of energy, inciting them to pogo-ing into one another.

Next were twee punksters Supermoon. They aren’t best known for their musical depth, but on this night, their songs sounded meatier and more segmented than I could ever remember hearing live. Although much of Supermoon’s set still charged ahead in a very straightforward manner, like abridged Electrelane cuts complete with generally plainspoken vocals, their songs displayed a greater degree of structural complexity. Just a degree, but again, more than I remembered. Maybe the songs were new.

Finally, the celebrated: Redrick Sultan. The trio describes themselves on Bandcamp as “magic rock” (amongst other terms). There was certainly an air of wizardry at their big show. It was difficult to pin down a sound as they slipped from an alluring guitar melody, unaccompanied save for a flute, to a rain shower of cymbals to bouldering drums to deep drum-kicks. The metaphorical levee broke, unleashing a flood of heavy blues riffery that turned into rapid strumming alongside the appearance of drum fills. Guitarist Spencer Hargreaves and bassist Noah Jordan swapped vocals before convening in harmony. Was this opening song actually a medley, or was it an extremely protracted version of “Deep Decide”, the closing track of their new EP? Whatever it was, Redrick Sultan continued in this technical, shape-shifting, style-bending way for several minutes before stopping for a definite applause-permitting break.

Further into Sultan’s set, Batman Jesus intervened, leaping onstage to hock the band’s merchandise. Batman Jesus looked exactly as his name implies: enrobed, hairy, and masked as the Dark Knight – my nomination for official band mascot, being named after the song, “Batman Jesus”, from the new EP.

Redrick Sultan finished the night with an older song, the rollicking “Strawman”, from their 2014 self-titled EP – not counting the encore for which they dug even deeper into the past with “Dinosaurs”, a song they hadn’t played in “years” according to Hargreaves.

Fly as a Kite is a rather delicate affair featuring some of Redrick Sultan’s sunniest material, with many under-the-shade moments of mental clarity. But the night called for celebration, and the multifaceted, multi-talented Redrick Sultan knew exactly how to fit the mood. More than that, they knew how to keep the party moving.

Fly as a Kite is available now on iTunes and for free for a limited time on Bandcamp.

Leslie Ken Chu

Leslie Ken Chu