Audible Thought, ESW

United States of Mind

Saturday, Feb. 26, 9 p.m.

Many local hip-hop artists don’t perform with a live band, leaving some fans unable to dance to a machine. But when they do team up with musicians, it’s a gem worthy of hearing. And while thunderous bass and drums are a hallmark of that music, when you toss in an earth-shaking baritone sax and a small horn section, the results are unstoppable. If that wasn’t enough, imagine all these elements mixed together with funk and soul music.

This comes close to describing the spiritual experience of Audible Thought, who will be performing this Saturday night along with instrumental-jazz group ESW at United States of Mind.

Along with other large ensembles like Undefeatable Beats, Audible Thought is part of a growing trend of local bands that are booking fewer shows. But when they do step out of the basement, the polished results leave the fans drooling in anticipation for the next gig, and it’s proving to be an effective move.

“We’re focusing again on writing and not playing,” says John Ball, the group’s bari-sax-man. “We went through a phase where we played whenever we could, but now we like to play maybe three shows in three months that are more polished.

“You can play out too much,” Ball says. “A lot of times when people go out and there’s two shows on the same night, they think, ‘I wanna see this band but they’re playing next week, and the other one isn’t.’ So they see the other one and the band that’s booked two weeks in a row ends up losing money. Sometimes less is better for playing gigs.”

While some promoters try to book bands of similar styles for their shows, Audible Thought’s diverse musicianship makes them suitable for just about any gig. They’ve shared the stage with local ska groups like the Naptones and out-of-state hip-hoppers like Heiruspecs. They were also longtime collaborators with Undefeatable Beats and some seasoned jazz musicians at “Hypothesis,” the Wednesday night, Harlem-Renaissance-inspired poetry and open-jam at the Jazz Kitchen, which went “de-funked” late last spring.

Some of the band’s members vented frustrations about the seeming lack of interest in music at the Broad Ripple circuit, claiming they’ve found a more authentic fan-base at underage venues like the Emerson Theater and United States of Mind.

At a place like United States of Mind, unusual and exciting things like fire-dancers, break-dancers and Tom Healy’s city-history lessons on The Tribe of Ishmael constitute a typical Saturday night. Given this, the non-rock-influenced but still diverse style of Audible Thought has tended to fit in nicely.

“When you go to the Mind, you never know what you’re gonna get,” John says.

Bandmate Taylor Lamm chimed in. “That’s the thing,” Taylor says. “When people go to the bars, they usually go to drink. But people go to the Mind to see something different.”

Band member Chris Hunt also shared the sentiment. “The all-ages shows seem to be more enthusiastic,” Chris says. “I was surprised that the Emerson was packed. We jumped on all those opportunities because the kids are there to see a show.”


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