Who: Ryan Miller (guitar), Jon Scheid (bass), Phil Cleary (drums).
Sounds like: Steve Albini, Rick Froberg and Damon Che soundtracking a disjointed art film about speed freaks careening through the desert with unknown motives—imagine a film noir, Death Valley version of Run Lola Run and you’re pretty close.
For fans of: Drive Like Jehu, Shellac, Don Caballero, Dysrhythmia.
Why you care: There comes a time in emo kids’ lives
when they’re not kids anymore, when the punk-based genre’s maudlin
vocals and studded white belts are left behind for more cerebral
pursuits. For Phil Cleary, U Sco’s drummer, instrumental math rock was a
“I think a lot of the same people that gave up on emo naturally gravitated toward instrumental music because they were looking for something less angsty and full-on,” he says.
U Sco does lack vocals, but paint-by-numbers Explosions in the Sky impersonators they are not. Cleary, along with bassist Jon Scheid, conquered the nation’s DIY circuit in Duck, Little Brother, Duck, a local math-rock outfit signed to the Massachusetts powerhouse emo label Top Shelf Records. Now that DLBD is dormant, Scheid and Cleary have poured their keen sense of screeching, off-kilter catharsis into the project they started in 2011 with guitarist and free-jazz aficionado Ryan Miller. The resulting effort is the forthcoming Treffpunkt, a driving, visceral blast of angular post-rock shot straight out of the early-’90s San Diego hardcore scene that scorched the earth with acts like Drive Like Jehu.
While garden variety post-rockers use instrumental passages to drift in and out of focus, the dynamic shifts of “Iguana House” and “Tuskflower” have the subtlety of a semi truck crashing headlong into a guardrail then maneuvering back into traffic. While the music is a blitzkrieg of fast and heavy noodling, it’s neither here nor there as far as punk and metal are concerned. According to Scheid, there’s always one failsafe against getting put on an incongruous live billing: volume.
“When we play out of town and play more DIY punk shows, the sheer volume of our band alone is enough to get us noticed even though the playing is much more obscure and disjointed,” he says. “The fact that it’s loud—we’re really loud—is one of those things where even if the band sucks the energy, it is still undeniable because it’s in your face.”
SEE IT: U Sco plays Slabtown, 1033 NW 16th Ave., with Grex and the Sarcastic Dharma Society, on Thursday, Aug. 7. 9 pm. $6. 21+.