From the Double Down to the Smith Center: Longtime “Blue Man Group” side-project Uberschall brings avant-garde improv downtown

Uberschall will take the stage at the Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz on Jan. 20.
Photo: Todd Waetzig

What do Blue Man Group musicians do in their off-hours? Not surprisingly, they keep the weird and wonderful going, making improvisational, electro-infused, jazzadelic soundscapes as the band Überschall (German for “supersonic”).

Founded in 2000 by then-BMG—and current Criss Angel Believe—guitarist Elvis Lederer, Überschall has held residencies around town, from Studio 54 to Paris’ Risque. For more than a decade, the final Sunday of each month has found the group at the Double Down, gaining a loyal following with their post-midnight jams.

The Details

Überschall with Terry Bozzio
January 20, 2 & 8 p.m., $24-$31.
Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz, 749-2000.

On January 20, however, Überschall will take the stage at the Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz for a pair of shows with drummer Terry Bozzio, a former member of Missing Persons who has also performed with the likes of Frank Zappa and Jeff Beck.

“I thought it would be an interesting contrast to bring something like this to the Smith Center, because usually they have traditional jazz, musicals or ballet,” says Lederer, who organized the gig at the suggestion of Bozzio after they met this past fall. “Our sound is quite different, but it actually relies on the aesthetic of jazz.”

Überschall, which features three drummers, two guitarists, a bassist and no vocalist, is indeed a contrast to the palatable mainstream selections found on the Smith Center’s calendar. Lederer hopes their avant-garde approach will be a welcome challenge to audiences.

“I think right now there’s a certain demographic going to the Smith Center, and maybe us coming in there could draw a new generation to venues like this, to enjoy this beautiful environment and listen to music that has a similar quality of the established sounds, but that is a little more part of a zeitgeist, rather than reminiscent of an era,” he says.

The shows, which will be completely unrehearsed, should last about 90 minutes each, though Lederer can predict little about them beyond that. He anticipates the performances will be divided into either two 40-minute sets or three 25-minute sets with breaks in between, though the shape of the concerts will ultimately depend on the relationship and feedback between the audience and the band.

“We always feel it out. Maybe the audience will give us something that keeps us going and it will be one long set, you never know,” he says, explaining that due to the improvisational nature, fans can expect a set with a feel distinct from those at the Double Down. “We’re almost like a chameleon—we adjust to our environment. So it will be very different from the Double Down in the sense of volume and maybe extreme sounds. It will probably be more like reflecting what the atmosphere is in the Smith Center, almost like a film score for the room.”

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