Captured! By Robots
with the Rock Coaches and Man Made Brain
The Earl, Atlanta, GA • November 11, 2000
Roi J. Tamkin
The Earl played host to an exceptional evening with three distinctly different acts that together seemed to play to one magical theme, mixing horror and sci-fi to produce thought-provoking music to a large crowd.
Atlanta•s Rock Coaches started the evening off. Sarah from the band tells me that they only play out once every three months. With drums, guitar, and keyboards, the three members create a lot of joyous noise played horribly. When they switched instruments, it only got worse. It seemed so ironic that they would take the time to tune the instruments and just play so crappy. And it strongly appeared as if they were doing so deliberately. They acted like three tone-deaf nerds touching instruments for the first time. Would I recommend them? Absolutely! Rock on Coaches!
Man Made Brain was a four piece from Alabama featuring a hyperkinetic rhythm section. They played a set of sci-fi punk, and although more skilled with their instruments, I found the mumbling of the lead singer annoying. His change to distorted shouting was not an improvement.
Both bands played to large crowds. While the stage was being set for the robot invasion, I noticed people milling out. This was the third time Captured! By Robots played Atlanta, and it looked as though no one wanted to see him again. Boy, was I ever wrong. Obviously, people knew it would take a good half-hour for the act to be in place. By the time JBOT and the robots were ready, the house was at capacity, with people standing atop chairs and tables to get a view.
One human • JBOT • and three musical robots built by JBOT out of strange, discarded items, cables, and pumps. The menacing GTRBOT666 played what looked like an autoharp, while a dreadlocked doll•s head named DRMBOT0110 played a snare atop a bass drum. In the background was a giant stuffed gorilla with a tambourine growing out of its head. That was the gentle and loving Ape Which Hath No Name. The human played a guitar/Casio keyboard combo. All cables appeared to enter a box behind JBOT, perhaps the CPU that ran the robots and kept everything working in time.
So why would one person go to so much trouble just to play rock and roll? JBOT explained that music has become an obligation. Having played in different bands in San Francisco, he realized that only he was devoted to playing and staying in a band. Music was too much of an obligation for the other band members, and too much of an obsession with him. So why play with humans? He built himself a band that never quits. But these robots come with lots of attitude. Preaching the gospel of the coming robot revolution, they have enslaved Bot and force him to play without mercy while casting insults to the audience.
Contrary to what people may think, the music was not sci-fi or fantasy based. The songs had a heavy rock base, played fast and fierce, and are about everyday events such as bed-wetting, getting your balls busted, getting kicked out of the house, and cancer. There•s even a love song • sort of. When JBOT asked the crowd, •Anybody here in love?• only one person raised his hand.
Robots, heavy metal guitar, songs about bedwetting • what is it really all about? There is too much going on for one little review. CBR has to be seen as a concept show. Multiple themes interweave into a show about domination, isolation, alienation, and tolerance for all creatures.
The show opens with an intro explaining how robots that are setting the stage for a robotic revolution, enslaving JBOT. To show the torment that awaits all humans, JBOT wears chains across his body and a bondage mask with lighted bulging eyeballs attached. The robots illuminate as they taunt the audience and curse JBOT. To counter the torture and insults is the Ape Which Hath No Name, spreading his unconditional love to humans and robots alike. The Ape acts as our salvation as it spews mangled Biblical texts and assures that all of us are •so special.•
Visually, we see a man struggling through his dominance by machines singing about isolating ourselves from human contact. JBOT has dropped his false friends and turned to a life with machines. But then he shows how dehumanizing that life can be. If it weren•t for the Ape and his message of love, life would be without purpose. The show closes with The Ape Which Hath No Name spouting more distorted quotes from Genesis, mixed with his own philosophy of love and tolerance for all creatures.
Pretty heady stuff for a guy with a degree in music, enormous mechanical aptitude and a strong desire to be with family for Thanksgiving.