Dada Plan, Summering, and Ora Cogan are all bands that one could reasonably describe as “spacey.” Although the term lacks nuance and doesn’t really do justice to the uniqueness of each band, there is no denying that their respective sounds wouldn’t seem out of place if found in some kind of galactic transmission. When it was announced that they would play a show together at the Planetarium, my first thought was, “Of course. How could they play anywhere else?”
The stars, quite literally, had aligned.
Little had changed at the Planetarium since I’d been there fifteen years ago—including the skies. The renderings of space were less an exercise in realism and more a video gamey interpretation. But this obsolescence was fitting.
It’s strange to look up at the cosmos and think that it could “probably be in higher definition.” This is a modern day irony that bands like Dada Plan revel in, and it set a surreal tone for the evening. Plush high backed seats and carpeted floors made for a show that was subdued and reverent rather than loud or energetic. With the cosmic ceiling of the planetarium hanging above, on-stage banter felt almost taboo. The artists themselves hardly spoke at all.
All the musicians played in the dark, putting emphasis on the projections cast behind them. Matt Krysko, Jared Brandle, Mohammad Ali Sharar and Collin Elder all contributed visually, and the styles were as distinct as the personality of each band.
Ora Cogan began with her ethereal country tunes. Although it’s a bad pun, it’s true that her voice has an alien quality. Her words were indistinct but it didn’t seem to matter —she delivered her melodies in a haunting way to a rapt audience. Slow motion fauna served as a nice visual accompaniment to her show, but it didn’t seem to be as seamlessly linked to the music as Summering’s visuals did.
With a piercing lead vocal and a penchant for hard hitting drums, Summering’s set was all the more intense in the darkness of which it was played. At one point, all of the band members were heads upward to the electronic sky, playing their instruments while watching a strange digital shape above them, as enraptured with the spectacle as the audience. In this moment and others, it was evident that no hierarchy existed between audio and visual. Each was as much a part of the show as the other.
Dada Plan closed off the night. Their incomparable brand of drum-machine driven psychedelia echoed throughout the planetarium exactly as it was supposed to. Extended instrumental breaks only added to the reverie and the saxophone work of David Biddle seemed particularly otherworldly when bouncing around inside this dome.
We didn’t talk much as we left. All the clichés about universal one-ness that I usually spew after a good show are just funny when you consider that we really did watch a universe spin around us all evening. But this show wasn’t about words, it had transcended words through the universal language of music.