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RHCP, Take Notes

The Non
King of Clubs, Claremore, OK
Thursday, May 17, 2007

So, I went to the King of Clubs expecting an indie-rock show with two local standbys that I’ve reviewed several times in Independent Clauses (Scales of Motion and the Programme). I got an unexpected blast of unique when the Non took the stage to open the show, though.

The Non, as odd as this sounds, play instrumental funk-rock with artistic indie-rock and even post-rock influences. I’d never heard this fusion before, and after the initial shock of “oh, that bassist is totally playing slap-bass with an indie-rock riff” wore off, I started to get seriously into it.

The Non made their set easy to get into, as their technical skill was astounding, their melodic ideas were exciting and their stage presence was mesmerizing. You don’t see many guitargasm faces anymore – they seem to have been lost after the fall of hair metal. But both guitarists for the Non were extremely in touch with their guitar playing, making grimaces, grins, and all sorts of facial expressions that were nearly as expressive and interesting as any vocals could have been. The bassist was simply astounding – whether laying down a low-end, a heavy riff or some lightning-speed slapping, he knew when to show up and when to show off. It takes a very humble bassist to get out of the way of the melody when the bassist can hold their own with the melody. But the bassist never intruded on the sound – he only enhanced it.

The drummer held the whole thing together, transitioning from upbeat funk sections to driving, moody indie-rock sections with ease. He abused his cymbals (everyone’s ears were ringing by the end of the Non’s set), but he was good nonetheless.

But the Non’s songwriting is much more than the sum of its parts – dramatic, pensive, tension-filled and often fist-pumping, the songs were genuinely fun to listen to. I mentioned to a friend standing near me during one of the funkier sections that the Non sounds like what RHCP must have sounded like at the beginning of their career. I felt like retracting that by the end of the set, though – although there is a starting point of RHCP, the Non take that influence and use it as a springboard to create a sound that is entirely their own. I have never heard anything quite like the Non, and that’s a great thing. Definitely a fantastic set.

-Stephen Carradini