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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Chris Sikich’s Top 5 Photos of Under-The-Radar Bands

Bosnian Rainbows at the First Unitarian Church | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Bosnian Rainbows at the First Unitarian Church | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, contributing photographer Chris Sikich recaps the year’s best under-the-radar bands as seen through his lens.

Bosnian Rainbows, First Unitarian Church, Feb. 19

The cramped and barely lit First Unitarian Church was the perfect place for this band fronted by two rock geniuses — Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (The Mars Volta, At the Drive-In) and Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes) — to make their Philly debut back in February. Though Bosnian Rainbows stands as the most well-known group of this list (this show sold out and their return in the summer to Underground Arts was very well attended), their self-titled debut was not easily found at record shops and is missing from year-end lists, despite being one my top five records of the year. Continue reading →

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Bosnian Rainbows headline Underground Arts with a transfixing set (photos, review)

Bosnian Rainbows | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Bosnian Rainbows | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

All photos by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Bosnian Rainbows made its second Philadelphia visit of the year last night to Underground Arts. Their first trip in February to the First Unitarian Church was a night of glorious, raucous discovery, leaving the crowd in a rock-induced frenzy. And Saturday, less than a month after their masterful self-titled debut album dropped, they picked up where they left off in the dead of the winter, thriving in the heat of the summer with their 1980’s-infused synth rock transfixing the crowd for their hour-long set. Consisting of the rousing, one-of-a-kind lead singer Teri Gender Bender (of Le Butcherettes), guitar elite Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (of The Mars Volta, At the Drive-In), the drumming extraordinaire Deantoni Parks, and synth-master Nicci Kasper, the Bosnian Rainbows are a big gulp of musical fresh air. From Gender Bender’s avian-esque dance moves and willingness to leap into the crowd (she did this twice on Saturday) to the raw energy of Rodriguez-Lopez, who constantly bops around while expertly strumming his guitar, the Bosnian Rainbows are a force of aural power to be reckoned with. Concluding the night with their powerful end song to the album, “Mother, Father, Set Us Free,” Gender Bender sang to the crowd, holding hands with those willing, and taking a leap into the audience. This audience will certainly not soon leave their side, since to listen to and experience Bosnian Rainbows in the flesh is to jump into the grand possibilities of music at its purest and most electric. It transports you to the rock and roll stratosphere and beyond. Below, see photos of their set as well as openers Sister Crayon and Philadelphia’s Mohican.

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Stream Bosnian Rainbows’ new LP on First Listen (playing Underground Arts on 7/13)

Bosnian Rainbows at the First Unitarian Church | Photo by Chris Sikich
Bosnian Rainbows at the First Unitarian Church | Photo by Chris Sikich

With the new collaboration between Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Teri Gender Bender on the cusp of releasing its debut self-titled full-length, NPR Music has picked up Bosnian Rainbows for a First Listen feature this week.  The album is heavy, enigmatic and, at times, terrifying with Lopez’s rich and twisting guitar playing swerving around Gender Bender’s incredibly powerful vocal performance.  From NPR:

Every song on Bosnian Rainbows is catchy and anthemic, with frequent nods to the ’80s work of Simple Minds and Bowie. Lopez, who can get too tangled in his own head, here finds a way to package his ideas in a succinct and digestible way. Songs like the bouncy “Torn Maps” and the wistful “Turtlenecks” are easy to enjoy, but not too reduced — they’re full of rich narratives, unusual musical progressions and cryptic, Tori Amos-esque lyrics to keep listeners feeling both included and intrigued.

Bosnian Rainbows will release the LP via Sargent House on June 25th and will play Underground Arts on July 13th.  Tickets and information for the 21+ show can be found here.  Stream Bosnian Rainbows in its entirety here and watch a video of the band performing “Morning Sickness” from their March show at the First Unitarian Church below.

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Listen to Bosnian Rainbows’ new song “Morning Sickness” (playing Underground Arts on 7/13)

Bosnian Rainbows | Photo by Chris Sikich
Bosnian Rainbows | Photo by Chris Sikich
Making their Sargent House full-length debut later this month, Bosnian Rainbows have released another track from the album called “Morning Sickness.”  The Omar Rodriguez-Lopez / Teri Gender Bender collaboration has resulted in two other experimental rock tracks so far – “Torn Maps” and “Turtle Neck” – and like the others, “Morning Sickness” revels in Gender Bender’s dreamy vocals, chanting themselves into a trance as she repeats the line “All I can say is / I blame you for loving me.”  Paired with Rodriguez-Lopez’s crushing guitar riffs and monumental solo, the song has a yin yang balance of heavy- and lightness.  Bosnian Rainbows play Underground Arts on July 13th; tickets and information can be found here.  Stream “Morning Sickness” below.

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Just Announced: Bosnian Rainbows return for a show at Underground Arts on 7/13

bosnian rainbows

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez will bring his current project back to Philadelphia on July 13th for a show at Underground ArtsBosnian Rainbows appeared after the Texas-based musician announced the disbandment of his former band The Mars Volta, though Volta drummer Deantoni Parks stuck with Rodriguez-Lopez the new venture alongside Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes and Nicci Kasper.  The experimental / alt-rock group will release its debut self-titled album through Sargent House in June, following two singles that were released earlier this year.  Tickets and information for the show will be available on the XPN Concert Calendar.  Stream “Torn Maps” and “Turtle Neck” below and check out photo’s from Bosnian Rainbows’ February appearance at the First Unitarian Church here.

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Photo Recap: Bosnian Rainbows and Marriages played the First Unitarian Church

All photos by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

El Paso experimental rock band Bosnian Rainbows is a collaboration between Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, formerly of At The Drive-In and The Mars Volta, and Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes. The band played Philadelphia last night with L.A. trio Marriages; check out scenes from the show in the photo gallery above.

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Tonight’s Concert Pick: Bosnian Rainbows at the First Unitarian Church

Texas alt-rock outfit Bosnian Rainbows take over the First Unitarian Church tonight.  The show, which features The Mars Volta‘s Omar Rodriguez Lopez, follows an announcement that the influential prog-rock band is no longer a musical entity.  Lopez has since turned his focus towards the new band, which will release its debut effort this year.  Tickets and information for tonight’s all-ages show with Marriages can be found here.  Watch a live video of Bosnian Rainbows performing “The Eye Fell In Love” below.

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