Hovercraft Leads Sonic Trip to Parts Unknown

The Troubadour seemed in danger of vibrating off its foundation and slipping into the ether on Saturday, as Seattle trio Hovercraft set a course for inner space with its trancelike, chaos-flecked sounds and visuals.

Forget about hooks; Hovercraft didn't even have songs, at least not in the traditional sense. Its current album, "Experiment Below," lists titles, but Saturday's 40-minute instrumental set featured one continuous wave of sound. Anonymous on the darkened stage, and further camouflaged by projecting a film of rapidly changing, repetitive images (insects, astronauts, explosions, eyeballs, etc.) onto themselves, the players veered from low, ambient rumblings to driving sheets of screeching, feedback-laced fury.

Though unconventional, Hovercraft's music was surprisingly varied, almost melodic at times, with a powerful meditative effect that felt strangely peaceful. Emphasizing the lack of human personality, the members have taken the droidlike pseudonyms Campbell 2000 (guitar), Dash 11 (drums) and Sadie 7 (bass). The last is actually Beth Leibling, wife of Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder. Their desire to let the music do the talking was briefly threatened during a tour last year when Vedder played drums with the group and people showed up just to see him.

Vedder wasn't around Saturday, but the audience was more interested in reaching noise-induced nirvana anyway. When bliss arrived, however, it was abruptly snatched away by the silent shattering of a lightbulb on the movie screen, which signaled the cosmic journey's end.

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