After enjoying summer-like weather on Friday, the winter coat came out of the closet for Saturday evening’s frigid trek to the Tree Bar in Columbus.

Coup De Grace was down from Akron to lay their own brand of indie psych-rock on the denizens of our city. We reviewed their soon-to-be released “Walk in Light” EP on February 21, 2017, with it garnering a favorable “thumbs-up” from the Music in Motion staff.

Nick Reese (guitar/vocals), Doug Gallo (bass) and David “Tig” Tigelman (drums) formed the band just five months previously (October 2016), and this was their last show before the EP release on March 3.

Photo: Music in Motion
Photo: Music in Motion

Although the room was relatively full of people for much of the evening, a majority left before the band jammed into action just past midnight. For those of us that remained, we were treated to a display of some very tasty live music.

Taking their place behind the stump of the silver maple that once grew through the venue, the trio opened with a fast-paced version of the Velvet Underground’s “Rock & Roll.” Their tight groove built, with Reese coaxing some excellent wailing from his guitar.

They slowed things down a bit with a track from the new release, Champagne Taste. The spacey start immediately made you wish you were listening to this through headphones, floating through the sky. They doubled the length of the song, incorporating an almost country-tinged rock beat to the latter-half of the tune.

They didn’t miss a beat, as they segued into the instrumental Tree Bar Jam. With the whole band feeling the groove, Reese was using his pedals to form an aural soundscape that was simply beautiful. The jam built in intensity, as the band had set their phazers to “stun.”

Gallo’s sweet finger-work on his bass carried the groove for their cover of Tame Impala’s “Elephant.” They ground-out a more blues-based version than the original’s spacey, garage-psych sound. Short and sweet, it had a 70’s-era Savoy Brown feel to it.

Impressive to this point, they turned it up a notch with their first single, Friendly Tiger. With Gallo once again “in the pocket” on bass, Reese took us on an extended journey with a dreamy groove washing over the room.

Their country-flavored cover of Ween’s “Chocolate Town” was accentuated nicely with the shuffle of Tig’s drumming.

They launched into Open Road from the new EP, with such succulent guitar work through the middle of the song that the bartender came into the room to watch this wonderful display with the rest of us.

Coup De Grace - "Walk in Light"
Coup De Grace – “Walk in Light”

Reese asked us if it was “okay to play my guitar for a bit?” The response was affirmative, as the band launched into the short, but uptempo instrumental Chickin Pickin’.

Reese then informed us that he has a dog named “Lamb”, before kicking into the instrumental Lamb’s Jam. Starting as a jazzy number, it soon picked-up the pace to the point that Reese was “feelin’ the groove” with spasmodic intensity. At its conclusion, Tig remarked from behind his drums that Reese “almost pulled a Marty McFly”, leading to much laughter.

They jumped right into a straight forward version of Electioneering next, with Reese gravel voice adding gravitas to the lyrics.

They graced us with an extended version of Bitters that started with a swaying quality that soon morphed into a Phish-like, echo and reverb-laden spacey jam that was pleasantly pleasing. Watching Tig work his drums effortlessly was eerily reminiscent of The Grateful Dead’s Bill Kreutzmann carrying the beat.

They closed their set with a groovy cover of Ween’s Voodoo Lady, with the chorus of “Boogie oogie oogie oogie oogie oogie oogie oogie” making the venue’s staff dance in happiness. Admittedly, it is a very fetching song that makes one want to boogie. Midway through, Reese pulled off some very Carlos Santana-like guitar work, before they all came back into the groove of the boogie.

Within the intimacy of the Tree Bar, it almost felt as if the band was playing in your house. Showcasing excellent guitar work and a rhythm section that knows how to hold a groove, their 12-song set left everyone feeling euphoric and wanting more.

The extended portions of the live versions of their songs add richer context to the EP versions, allowing them to explore new aural avenues and take the songs into uncharted territory.

Although they hail from Akron, Coup De Grace want to play more dates in Columbus and Central Ohio. And when they do, you should be there.

Setlist

  1. Rock & Roll
  2. Champagne Taste
  3. Tree Bar Jam
  4. Elephant
  5. Friendly Tiger
  6. Chocolate Town
  7. Open Road
  8. Chickin Pickin’
  9. Lamb’s Jam
  10. Electioneering
  11. Bitters
  12. Voodoo Lady
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