Breezy jammin' with a little improvised force
It takes a special kind of band to make a steel drum sound intimidating, but one that Japanese four-piece tio managed at times during their night performance at the Gypsy Avalon. For the most part, though, this is a group playing smoothed out instrumental jams, the sort of unhurried rock that teeters on the edge of turning into Weather Channel backdrop. Yet to tio’s credit, their show never turned into something worthy of laying out the five-day, thanks to their embrace of improvisation. They added start-stop sections to otherwise drifting songs, lending them a sudden sense of unexpectedness, and the electric guitarist wasn’t afraid to shred when needed. And yeah, then came the steel drum, which for the most part added an island flavor to their smooth-moving tunes, but even then the dude manning it would sometimes hit it with an amount of force pushing it out of tropical-delight territory. This ability to find force in even the breeziest sounds kept tio’s set intriguing until the last steel-drum strike.