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Ouch! Math Rock

By Sarah Dahnke in Arts & Entertainment on May 4, 2007 8:49PM

2007_5_4_patternismovement.jpgThe first time we saw Pattern is Movement live, it was a chilly fall night at South Union Arts. The band played underneath a larger-than-life-sized neon Jesus to a crowd of about 10, fully bundled in scarves and hats and down coats, sipping plastic cups that were filled to the brim with three-dollar red wine. One would assume that this environment would be less-than-inspiring to a band that was finishing a cross-country tour, had recently played the CMJ Music Marathon and was used to playing to familiar hometown crowds. But as they took the stage, each of the three band members immediately embodied the music. To risk sounding cliché, they seemed to become one with their songs, their instruments, their inner neon Jesus … It was as if the altar in this chilly, semi-abandoned church was the stage this band had always been seeking. Singer Andrew Thiboldeaux closed his eyes, pounded the keys/guitar and let the words seep out of his pores, while drummer Chris Ward held down steady, yet syncopated backbeats. The set couldn’t have been more than 30 minutes long, but when we walked away, we felt almost like we had witnessed someone get saved. Maybe it was our skeptical soles, previously unwilling to fully accept this so-called pretentious form of music – one that we thought was unlistenable for the sake of being exclusive and snobbish – that had found salvation.

While the band has been pigeon-holed into the “math rock” stereotype by many critics, this show was the furthest thing from unapproachable. And that is why we can’t wait to see them do it all over again on Sunday at Ronny’s, playing alongside Chicago-based The Whole Fantastic World, which seems to be gaining international fandom via Pandora.

Pattern is Movement and The Whole Fantastic World play at Ronny’s, 2205 N. California, at 8 p.m on Sunday.

Photo of Pattern is Movement courtesy of the band.