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Trip The Light Fantastic

KUPS 90.1 FM throws a worthy benefit show Friday featuring Trip the Light Fantastic

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Turning on the radio can be a fairly depressing proposition. There was a time when stations on the FM dial had integrity, but those days are long gone. With the obvious exception of KEXP, chances are anything you tune in on the car radio is going to suck hardcore, and be designed to sell weight loss systems and home entertainment systems, not actually play good music.

Besides KEXP, one bastion of hope is college radio. In many ways the precursor to stations like KEXP, college-run radio throughout the state offers the most intriguing and eclectic programming you’ll find on air. Not only do college stations typically cater to a far wider musical audience, and not only are they the only frequencies not specifically designed to generate as much profit as possible, but college radio fills a much needed local niche. College radio, almost always, gives airplay to local bands and musicians who wouldn’t receive it otherwise.

One station we as Tacomans (and I can officially say that again having moved back to Tacoma last weekend in the snow) can be proud of is KUPS 90.1 FM. On Friday, Dec. 7, KUPS will be sponsoring a show at Hell’s Kitchen with Trip the Light Fantastic, The Elephants, and Kusikia. Even better, it’s a food drive, meaning you’ll pay only five dollars at the door if you donate an item of non-perishable grub. Who doesn’t have a can of creamed corn worth trading in for a chance to see three of Tacoma’s most stimulating bands?

I know I do. I might have some corn beef hash to boot.

KUPS couldn’t have chosen a better lineup to show off Tacoma’s surplus of indie talent perfectly suited for the college ear. The Elephants are, and will remain until the moment they spontaneously combust into psychedelic, sugar sweet indie dust, one of my favorite Tacoma bands of all time. Seeing the Elephants always rejuvenates my faith in the direction Tacoma’s music scene is headed.

Kusikia, from what I’ve heard through the Grapevine, is (if nothing else) a sight to behold. Built on the off-the-wall skills of Nsayi Matingou on guitar, and Peter Ryan’s equally impassioned drumming, Kusikia is building a name based on house party performances alone. Bringing blues licks to the forefront of indie experimentation, Kusikia is a band to watch.

Then there’s Trip the Light Fantastic.

If you’re not familiar with Trip the Light Fantastic, there’s a good chance you are familiar with the now defunct band Weather. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that Weather was one of the hottest bands on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

Weather broke up in 2006. Tyler Pratt and Joseph Yohann, suddenly bandless, recruited drummer David Balaam. Next thing you know, Trip the Light Fantastic was born.

What Trip the Light Fantastic is, besides a band name that could be a reference to about a gazillion different things, is an instrumental experiment of brainy rock seemingly created for the dirt under the fingernails crowd of Grit City.

“We all knew each other growing up. We’ve been playing in bands together for about seven years. Trip the Light Fantastic was created for the sake of sanity. We made an album together as friends and just decided to roll with it,” explains Pratt.

“Each time we play together you hear three different and distinct personalities. I’d guess that works for us because we’ve known each other for so long. We’re just best friends up there having a blast playing music that keeps us moving and interested. The reason we are instrumental is because no one wanted to sing. What’s cool, though, is that not having a vocalist is opening doors we never knew existed. Also, it pushes you as a musician.

“Growing up my dad would always say to us boys, ‘you look like you just tripped the light fantastic.’ Which I think meant we looked terrible and hung-over from the night before. We just associate it with having a good time. It was a plus when we found out the official definition was ‘to move in a pattern to rhythm.’”

Trip the Light Fantastic wasted no time getting into the studio. The band recorded a self-titled debut in only seven days at Spectre Studios with local producer Zach Varnell.

“We have a demo we recorded last year that we give out for free at our shows. We just got done recording a new EP, though, that is set for release in February,” offers Pratt.

“Every time we go into the studio I know it will be different from the last record. That is just the kind of people we are. What is cool about Trip the Light is that I know we all will make records together until the day we die.”

Trip the Light Fantastic will headline the KUPS-sponsored show at Hell’s Kitchen Friday.

When you consider the Elephants are also on the bill, that’s a pretty solid compliment. Then again, since neither band plays by the conventional rules of rock, it’s doubtful they adhere to such outdated notions as “headliners.” Let’s just say, however you look at it, this should be a good one for a good cause.

[Hell’s Kitchen, with The Elephants and Kusikia, Friday, Dec. 7, all ages, $6, $5 with canned food donation, 3829 Sixth_Ave., Tacoma, 253.759.6003]

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