photos by Emily Strelow
MEGA*CHURCH has embraced the LED light. One member of the band had on a pair of glasses so bright with white LEDs that, from time to time, when he glanced up from tinkering with his electronics I had to look away. Luckily, there was plenty else to take in during the performance. The group claims to be a “hypergospel for a new world,” which is pretty damn accurate. They take the idea of the “spectacle band” and execute it with aplomb using projected film, lights, dance, glow sticks, sparkles, fluorescent costumes and even an interlude with an old TV atop the main singer’s–or “preacher’s”–head, preaching love. He has these legitimately crazy eyes like most successful preachers, and a sparkly half a jesus fish stitched to his outfit with the word “US” inside. Nice.
The thing about MEGA*CHURCH is that they make really interesting, danceable music. With all the attention to concept, costuming and staging, one might expect that the musical integrity would suffer. But there are two gnomish men draped in coils of color on electronics and a beautiful woman on drums that combine together to create genuinely interesting beats. While the sounds are original and new, many of the “vibes” of the songs are reminiscent of eighties hits (think George Michael on “Kissing a Fool”). Through this fusion of old and new, the band is tapping into our collected nostalgia and our communal distrust of organized religion and turning those feelings into a bemused dance party.
I am excited to see what dazzling additions MEGA*CHURCH, Portland’s very own pseudo-proselytizing Portland posse, will come up with next time they play out.