Bosnian Rainbows @ The Button Factory, Dublin on October 2nd 2012

Review: Sean Noone
Photos: Yan Bourke

Omar Rodriguez Lopez doesn’t sleep much. At least that is the impression one must get looking at the massive amount of work he gets through. This year alone, the prodigious and prolific guitarist has released a new album with prog-rock The Mars Volta, toured with the reformed punk band At The Drive-In, and here he is on another tour with the instrumental post-rock The Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group (where do they come up with these inventive names?). At least, that’s the impression we’re given. That’s what the posters say; that’s what the gig listings say; that’s what I was sent to review.

What it turns out to be is Mr Rodriguez Lopez’s latest musical venture Bosnian Rainbow. I think it’s fair to say that no one really knew what to expect.  They strolled out on stage at 9.45, after LA producer Mono/poly played an interesting set but somewhat outstayed the welcome most of the audience afforded him. Three of the band huddle around the instruments – a two-piece drum set, guitar and lots of keyboards – as lead singer Teri Gender Bender (Teresa Suarez to her mother) took the spotlight at the front of the stage.

What followed was just over an hour of music, which none in the audience had ever heard before. Bosnian Rainbows didn’t once venture into any of Rodriguez Lopez’s back catalogue, instead reeling out song after song from this unknown new band; one which “hope to make a record next year”. Nobody complained however, as what they were giving the audience was something quite exceptional and very different. Imagine St Vincent recording with King Crimson, with the occasional input of some 80s’ electro keys.

Teri’s vocals were powerful, yet vulnerable as she jumped around the stage like Kate Bush on a bad acid trip. This was when she wasn’t giving audience members a scary smile or speaking in Spanish as she did between most songs. Rodriguez Lopez stood out of the spotlight tearing away at his guitar; very much the leader of the group still. The highlight of the show was the epic Turtle Neck (at least that’s what I’m calling it). Rodriguez Lopez provided some backing vocals at the start of what seemed a slow, sensitive piece. It gathered pace before eventually breaking into an instrumental piece; allowing Rodriguez Lopez his first opportunity to really show his prodigious guitar ability. It was one of the few times of the night in which he let himself off the leash.

The only time he let himself be in the spotlight – literally and figuratively – was when, just before the last song, he took to the front of the stage to introduce his Bosnian Rainbows. He did so without the aid of a microphone, rarely needing to shout as the audience looked up at him in reverential silence. There seemed to be something humble and warm in his unplugged chat. As the show ended, the blown-away crowd nearly caused a crush as Teri and Rodriguez Lopez insisted on shaking hands with anyone within reach of the stage.

“We’d be delighted if you’d be good enough to have us back [after we release our album],” said the man with so many career highlights to date. With Bosnian Rainbows being right up with the best of anything the man has done before – and I know how bold a claim that is –  we wouldn’t hesitate to ask you back.

Bosnian Rainbows Photo Gallery

Photos: Yan Bourke

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