Les Rhinoceros, a young band originally from the Washington DC area, kicked off their 6-week, 20+ state U.S. tour on Tuesday night with a short set at the Lilypad in Inman Square, Cambridge, MA. I've been a fan of theirs for a couple of years since picking up their debut self-titled album (released on Tzadik) after a friend recommended it - both of their studio albums are excellent, and I was eager to see what they would do with their latest release in a live setting.
Their web page lists their genre as 'Noise/Ambient/World/Experimental/Other' and that is pretty accurate, except they are probably a lot easier to listen to than you might guess from that description. They have some catchy tunes and a good groove on most tracks, and they are creative with their use of samples, pedals and effects.
The concert on Tuesday was pretty sparsely attended, but the audience that did turn up thoroughly enjoyed what turned out to be an excellent set by the Rhinos. They came with a different lineup than the last time I saw them, a little over a year ago ' they had a violin and saxophone that time, but for this show the lineup was a more traditional electric guitar/bass/drums rock trio. The two shows weren't as different as you might imagine from the instrumentation, especially since they used a lot of their samples and electronics to fill out the sound. They played pieces from both of their studio albums during their set, mostly selecting pieces that were more upbeat and melodic and less ambient.
I really recommend checking them out on their current tour ' it's the first time they've visited many of these places, and they're coming to some smaller cities that don't tend to get that many great bands coming through. Their full tour schedule is listed here: http://tinyurl.com/rhinotour