I walked into the Rathskeller Friday evening not really knowing what to expect. All I knew about Sinister Resonance was that they were a multi-genre group experimenting with anything from hard rock to smooth jazz.
I took a seat near the area where they would play and was a bit surprised to see a group of middle-aged men. The name Sinister Resonance brought to mind ideas of teenagers still grappling with the ideas of punk rock and an 11 p.m. curfew.
People began to trickle in as start time approached, and the house was almost full by the time they started. They eased into their first song without any announcement, opening with a haunting keyboard melody and simplistic bass that sat pleasantly between background noise and attention-grabbing. About halfway through the song, Mark Hetzler, the band trombonist, came in full force with an electric mute screwed into his instrument, blaring raspy notes that echoed throughout the hall. This, in partnership with Vincent Fuh’s piano playing, Nick Moran’s bass strumming and Todd Hames’ drumming, brought the audience to full attention.
Sinister Resonance is truly a multi-genre band. They didn’t just flip back and forth between two different genres; they covered it all, ranging from hard rock to smooth jazz to, believe it or not, 13th century chants. And they did it well. Each song was unique and different, but they all felt tied together by a common sound. On top of that, they managed to do it without any vocals, something not commonly found outside of classical music in today’s scene.
Along with their stellar sound and musicianship, you could really tell that these guys loved to play. Hetzler introduced each song, typically following it with a bit of background or a short anecdote relating it to their personal lives, showing a real connection to the music they played. They all got into it while they played, bobbing and swinging along with the music.
Sinister Resonance is a truly fitting name for this group and its sound. The theme that brought this group together was a feeling of mystery and suspense in all of its pieces that can best be described as sinister. Their music is absolutely cinematic, and they painted a picture of shadowy beauty as it swelled to fill the room.
Hetzler encountered a bit of technical difficulty with the electric mute midway through the set, but he rolled with it and played without it for a song until he was able to get it back into working condition. Despite this small issue, the show was still excellent.
Sinister Resonance brought a relaxed atmosphere, but the physical signs of its enjoyment were clearly evident.