Ad Astra Arkestra amalgamated in the mercury that was early 2009. Both wife to, and progeny of, Ad Astra Per Aspera (the band is dead, long live the band), the inhabitants of AAArkestra hoboed in from such outposts as: Paper Airplanes, Tanka Ray, Grisly Hand, Nature Boys, Hairy Belafonte, Muscle Worship, and the IDM label Broken Fader Cartel. The band describes its sound with invented designations like “Astra Beat,” or “Drum Punk.” Rightly so, because the sound is a synthesis – part drum line, part drunk punk abandon, all relying on ass-freaking bass lines and call-and-response lyrics reminiscent of say, the well-known Moussa Doumbi hit “Yeye Mousso” to hold it together. (Got it?) It’s a specific kind of chaos, akin to a holy errand – like righteous rebels with drums instead of guns. And drums are their religion. To be sure, the AAArkies are fighters and babes equally – they radiate joy live, playing both manically and passionately. That joy is catching.AArkestra shows are a crossroads – you could hear their heart-warming version of “Don’t Let Me Down” – an homage to both the Beatles and Charlotte Dada.
Or maybe they’ll play a sloppy version of “Wipe Out” – leaping from the stage, pulling up audience members to drum, cutting themselves and knocking over drums and gear in the process creating a cacophonous and terrible climax. Or perhaps you’ll watch footage of a giant Sauron-like eyeball while some creepy fake-Brit reads an Arkestra-edited version of the Book of Genesis. It’s a polarizing experience. The AAArkestra, like their namesake, embraces theater and isn’t afraid to attempt the unreasonable. The results are entertaining. PopWreckoning calls the band: “…all that’s right with local music…do yourself a favor: go see an Ad Astra show.” Lawrence.com implores the reader: “If the three-ring circus that is Ad Astra Arkestra comes and plays ANYWHERE near you, for the love of God GO TO THE SHOW. No questions asked!” [emphasis author’s]. The band is worth experiencing. But squares should be forewarned of the potential to have the drink knocked out of their hand by a wayward maraca, or be accosted by a choir comprised of fraggley lady-punks, or sneered at by a Wario-esqe emcee. The Zero Boys said, “This ain’t the safe Midwest” and the AAArkestra took it to heart.