Photo By Gary Miller
The Cancer ConspiracyEmo's Jr., Wednesday 13
In order to compete with the big sound of larger outfits, trios need to have three things: compelling arrangements, aptitude, and convincing atmospherics. In one of the first sets of SXSW 02, the Cancer Conspiracy, a Burlington, Vt.-based threesome, possessed all three, albeit with some problems. "We've had a very bad week. Our van broke down in Indiana, so we had to rent a truck to drive the other 400 miles to get here. Just so my fucking
amp wouldn't work," vented bassist Brent Frattini after his Ampeg bass head crapped-out. Bandmates Daryl Rabidoux (guitars) and Greg Beedle (drums, keyboards, saxophone) kept the beat alive while another amp head made its way to the stage. Following the heavy air left by Austin's Cruiserweight, TCC hit rhythm a few tunes later, getting the attention of a mostly full fan base in Emo's art-filled front parlor. They did so with well-played arrangements that changed tempo between upbeat to languorous, and instrumental works that evoked emotional mindscapes. They also created a wide tonal palette by using effect processors with the stringed instruments, and by Beedle adding keyboards and sax, sometimes playing the trap kit and the horn simultaneously. For a newly formed band, their ability was never in question, the trio able to coax nuances from their chosen tools. Rabidoux navigated the ins and outs of his Telecaster's deep echo, Beedle banged his extra floor tom, and Frattini occasionally played behind the headstock of his electric bass. Their too-short set of instrumental triangulation would have translated better with a less distracted audience, at the intimate, stage-directed confines of the Ritz Lounge perhaps. Nevertheless, the Cancer Conspiracy got hearty applause from the full crowd during the brief and quiet segue between "Interrupt Feed" and "The Divided Heir," the final two components of "The Audio Medium," the closing magnum opus of their similarly named debut.