Judging by the group’s masks, semi-anonymity, and stridently untraditional setup — drums, synths, and more machines — you’d be hazarding a good guess if you figured Black Moth Super Rainbow were all about noise. If you’re old enough to remember the Locust, or maybe Lightning Bolt, based on surface impressions, you’d be forgiven for lumping Pittsburgh-based BMSR in with those acts.
And, if you reached back to band founder Tobacco’s output before about 2002, you’d be right. As a teenager and very young adult playing mostly under the names Allegheny White Fish and then satanstompingcaterpillar, he created the kind of willfully abstract, vaguely noisy stuff you’d find in any underground scene. Think lots of droning, strummed guitar and unpredictable percussion, hinting at full-on psychedelia but never really blossoming into it.
Luckily for listeners, Tobacco’s vision started to properly gel with the birth of Black Moth Super Rainbow in the early ’00s. As a larger group, this time fitted out with guitar, bass, and the usual, plus keyboards and vocoder, the earlier trippier sounds fully developed. Thanks to echoing layers, catchy melodies, rhythmic beats, and most of all, Tobacco’s vocoded singing, the overall effect was otherworldly and poppy at the same time. Just check out a song like “Like a Sundae,” a descriptive title if there ever was one — it’s an additctively sugary ditty that updates the ’70s AM radio mood into cheerful synth pop.
The band’s latest, Kickstarter-funded album, Cobra Juicy, yields more of the same, striking a balance between the weird, sweet, and danceable. Luckily for the group, that’s a combination that goes down particularly well with the Miami artsy crowd, who can check BMSR out tonight at the Stage. Watch the video for the group’s latest single, “Windshield Smasher,” below.
Black Moth Super Rainbow. 10 p.m. Tuesday, October 30 at the Stage, 170 NE 38th St., Miami. Tickets are $10; age 21 and up. Call 305-576-9577, or visit thestagemiami.com