On its previous visit to the Washington area, Drums & Tuba played an electrifying set that cast it as a deeply warped funk band, propelled by the fat, below-the-gutbucket kick of, well, drums and tuba. During its return visit to Iota on Monday night, the New York via-Austin trio was still peddling what is essentially a funk pie left in the oven way too long. But this time around, the group relied even more on electronic pedals and samplers, which left Brian Wolff's tuba bellowing like a cross between a UFO movie soundtrack and a manatee's mating call.
In front of a decent-size Monday crowd that was half Drums & Tuba freaks and half stunned first-timers, the band uncorked a nearly nonstop hour of unique instrumental workouts. And as you might expect from a band that has thrown around titles like "Fists of Spaghetti," "Breakfast With Miletus" and "No Good With Words," there were plenty of off-kilter time signatures and jazzy quick cuts.
Drums & Tuba's equipment-heavy stage setup, dominated by big boxes of gizmos and wires (as well as guitarist Neal McKeeby's two-axe rig: a conventional one, plus one plugged in and propped up in a guitar stand, occasionally with a butter knife jammed through the strings), might be a tip that this is no simple post-Surfaris instrumental combo. Monday's was another of the band's magnificent, relentlessly exploring sets that proved it is indeed one-of-a-kind.
-- Patrick Foster