Big Rock Candy Mountain: 11.02.2011

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Although they’ve been off of the local live circuit for a few months, it should be no surprise to anyone that the members of Big Rock Candy Mountain have had no trouble picking up where they left off. Michael Girardot is a constantly-working artist, splitting time between his front man duties for BRCM and keyboard work with both the Revivalists and greatest band in the universe Rotary Downs, while drummer Paul Thibodeaux – a classically trained jazz musician – regularly collaborates with everyone from Bionica’s Sasha Masakowski to Why Are We Building Such A Big Ship’s Aurora Nealand to Cliff Hines.

To be perfectly clear, BRCM as an entity has been far from stagnant: in their time away from the stage spent prepping the release of their sophomore album, all four members of this freak-out prog pop outfit have slickly refined their running chemistry while somehow losing nothing in the way of the wanton live energy and virtuosic swagger that are their trademark. And at the Parish on November 2, sharing a bill with fellow New Orleanians Sun Hotel and Georgian art rockers Dead Confederate, Big Rock Candy Mountain managed to handily steal the show.

Guitarist Andrew Hartsock provided a jazz-infused foundation for nearly every measure of music while bassist Stephen MacDonald managed to keep a tight, heady rhythm through some ultra-complex basslines; and as Thibodeaux dexterously toyed around on what appeared to be an endless drumroll, Big Rock Candy Mountain’s unique meld of Emerson Lake & Palmer-esque contemporary progression and loopy, barroom rock n’ roll operated as a perfect underpinning for Michael Giradot’s electrifying front man persona – at once disarming and intimidating, antiquated and refreshing.

Though it’s never anything less than a thrill to see four of the most talented musicians in the city take the stage and rock harder than anyone in a ninety mile radius, what’s more amazing is how much carefree fun they seem to have doing it: their propensity for trading in gratuitously heavy sounds at times starkly belies the ease with which they morph those sounds into outright party music, as if their deft performance art is one big “made ya look”-style put on. Whatever the case, it’s easy to understand why more than a few local musicians call Big Rock Candy Mountain their favorite band.