An instrumental trio, Æther Haze doesn’t have a typical sound or rehearsal room; imagine Doc Brown’s garage in the movie “Back to the Future.” Colorful stage lights pulsate while beams of purple and red dots flit like fireflies throughout the space. The room is filled with amps and instruments, and the floor has pedals, buttons, cords and a myriad of gadgets.
“It looks like you could fly a jet with all that,” drummer Kurt Johnson said about guitarist Rhys Alexander’s setup.
Æther Haze stepped out of the garage and onto the bandstand Saturday night for its inaugural performance at the American Legion in South Lake Tahoe. The band had an appreciative locals’ crowd trippin’ around the dance floor as it opened for South Shore’s Beatkarma. Shades of early Pink Floyd could be heard during the jam.
“I’d call our sound electronic psychedelic rock,” Alexander said. “With a human touch,” added bassist Brett Kendall.
The band has eight original songs that will fill about 1 hour, 45 minutes. The ambiance will be enhanced with fog and laser lights.
Johnson is best known in the music community as the drummer for the blues band Mudd Bonz and as a Tahoe Onstage concert photographer.
Kendall, who began as a bluegrass player, has mostly played with soul and jazz bands. He is most influenced by 1960s jazz, such as George Benson’s music.
Alexander is a blues, jazz and rock guitarist who said he has never played in any band like Æther Haze.
The idea began more than a year ago when Johnson listened to prog-rock on Pandora. He came across tunes by Particle and the English space-rock band Ozric Tentacles. Intrigued, Johnson phoned Alexander.
“Have you ever heard of those bands?” he asked.
“Yes,” Alexander said. “I just went to a Ozric Tentacles concert.”
Johnson already was a fan of English prog-rockers Porcupine Tree and its drummer Gavin Harrison. And while Æther Haze aims for a similar sound to each of the aforementioned groups, both Alexander and Kendall say early Pink Floyd and David Gilmore play a big role.
Alexander plays his Carvin guitar through both a guitar amp and P.A. speaker. In the end it’s all about modulation. Johnson takes care of the loops, although the band is seeking a keyboard player to assume the task.
We wonder where it would all fit in the garage.