Reviewed by Robert Gabriel, Fri., Sept. 30, 2005
Zilker Park, Sept. 25
Charging out of the gate with a prog-rock aneurysm, Tortoise unleashed an Albini-esque rumble from the AMD stage just as darkness descended upon Sunday's Zilker dust-bowl. The Chicago quintet stormed through musicological explorations so chunky with thunder that preceding sonic lightning bolts lingered amidst related strains of Seventies era King Crimson. Bassist Doug McCombs' strings reverberated rope-thick as his band of superfluous tangents attached itself to the back door of jazz fusion. Raging mastodons of overlapping drum-kits pushed tribal xylophones over piercing cliffs of dissonant madness, providing the soundtrack to a life forever attempting to escape its own self-inflicted captivity. Contemplative like William Burroughs in Tangiers, volatile like Jimi Hendrix belting out "The Star-Spangled Banner", and decorative like Martin Denny on a double-dose of roofies, Tortoise displayed a skillful range dating back to their late-Nineties classics Millions Now Living Will Never Die and TNT. With the crowd having weathered the absolutely brutal heat before sunset, the dazed looks on the sparse assembly passed for intellectual delight. With the tail-end of their set drowned by Coldplay's neighboring cries, Tortoise capped their geyser of manic inflection.