Bridging the gap between the techno world and the world of instrumental music is the highly charged and largely improvisational band the New Deal.

This trio of amazingly talented musicians made the long trek down from their native Canada to grace us with their presence two weeks ago at the Water Street Music Hall.

This show, which was the first of a highly anticipated tour beginning in Rochester and traveling around the country, proved to be an amazing and utterly unforgettable concert experience.

Before I get into the actual concert review, let me just say that I almost missed this show because I simply didn’t know that the New Deal were in town.

There I was, trying to figure out what to do on a Friday night when I saw my friend Mike’s away message glimmering with the words “new deal show.”

I knew what I had to do. Next thing that I know, I’m at Water Street, drink in hand, waiting for the show to start. Unfortunately, the opening act didn’t even come on till 10:30, and even after they were on, the disappointment ensued when they played an excruciatingly painful half hour set.

After this highly disappointing half hour set by the opening act The Cancer Conspiracy, The New Deal sprang into action at around eleven and didn’t stop playing until two in the morning.

Before this point in time, I had only heard the music rather than actually seeing the band live, and I was soon blown away at how much better it was to experience it with my own eyes and ears.

Now, this music is not your average techno, with its highly sampled and “fake” sounding rhythms and beats. Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy trance and techno music, but the New Deal transcends the normal categories which one would impose when the word techno is mentioned.

The only way that I can describe these guys is as a techno jam band, in the highest and most flattering meaning of the words.

The actual instrumentation of the band consists of a three member team of Darren Shearer on drums, Dan Kurtz on electric base, and Jamie Shields on keyboard. Now, I mention Darren Shearer first simply because he is one of the most phenomenal drummers that I have ever seen or heard.

Not only does he play exceedingly complex rhythms at breakneck speed, he sometimes will accompany himself with a vocal beatbox while drumming, as he did at this performance. I know, this seems like an inhuman feat of instrumental mastery, and I probably wouldn’t have believed it myself if I didn’t see it with my own two eyes.

The other two members of the band are just as talented, with Jamie Shields working two keyboards at once to produce a tapestry of sound which flows into and complements Dan Kurtz’s base playing.

Heard all together, the mixture of the sounds of these amazingly talented musicians made the crowd go wild for every second of each of their hour and a half sets.

I came out of that concert with a ringing in my ears and a memory in my mind of one of the better concerts I have ever seen. The band’s CDs are good presentations of The New Deal’s musically diverse and highly improvosational style, but don’t do justice to the actual music which these guys are capable of producing.

My recommendation ? go see the New Deal for yourself whenever you can get a chance, and experience the sheer energy and musicianship of this amazing band.

Schneider can be reached at

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