The image of the artist alone in his room was suitably carried out on the Troubadour stage: A white sheet covered the black wall behind, a light bulb hung from the ceiling, a single red balloon tied in a corner, while Jonathan Bates moved around spastically like a loose wire. Bates, with drums and bass behind him, cloaked the audience with catchy melodies and blasts of sonic dissonance, at times recalling the early days of Radiohead.
Mellowdrone keeps it simple on its ArtistDirect Records EP “A Demonstration of Intellectual Property” — five emotionally charged songs with a larger-than-life sound recorded by Bates alone with his guitars and a bunch of budget-priced gear. Mellowdrone’s set was very similar, both in content and in length, to its opening performance for Johnny Marr last year.
The lanky Bates was all business from the minute he took to the stage, though halfway through the second song, “Fashionably Uninvited,” Bates’ sampler took on a life of its own and went on double time, as if trying to beat him at his own energetic game. Once Bates was able to tame his machines, the drummer and bassist hit their stride on “No More Options” as Bates delivered the song with considerable zeal and ardor.
Mellowdrone’s full-length album comes out in September.