Forty pedals deep and two drum kits wide, a Do Make Say Think (DMST) stage set up looks more like a pawn shop than anything else. Even the Biltmore’s spacious stage barely held the gear required for the night’s three bands. Opening the night were two bands made up of DMST members: Years, led by Ohad Benchetrit, and the Happiness Project, led by Charles Spearin. While Years leans more closely to the DMST sound, Spearin’s project is an experiment with conversations set to music. Most compelling among the spoken word was “Vanessa.” The speaker is a deaf woman who experienced hearing for the first time at the age of 30, thanks to a cochlear implant. On her first description of sound she says, “All of a sudden I felt my body moving inside,” and if that’s not a perfect description of music, then one does not exist.
Within their allowed time limit, DMST managed to get through 12 songs, pulling from even their earliest albums. “In Mind” garnered a major response, as did “Executioner Blues,” which I maintain contains one of music’s strongest bass lines. The band strengthened as the set went on, accepting praise with humble hands and returning with songs that rose and fell more graciously than the last.
Closing the show past the 11 p.m. curfew, the band ended by launching into “Auberge Le Mouton Noir,” a chugging train of a song with guitars that twinkled, glowed and blinded all at once, and drums that provided a back line that held the beat as steady as the band wished it to be. Overall, DMST showed why they’re still able to fill clubs nearly 12 years after starting out: solid songs that swerve and straighten, whisper and scream, and remind you why words are often completely unnecessary.