Strong Like Bear and Electric Jury are two separate bands, but they seem to do some of their best, most dynamic work when they’re on the same page. The two acts have joined forces in the past to produce some highly experimental shows that highlight the prog nature of both acts.
“I think a lot of it is that we’re all friends,” said Strong Like Bear’s Bryon Dudley. “But we also all really challenge each other to get better in some really subtle ways. It helps that everyone’s a good musician, and we can just talk about what needs to happen here and there, too. That makes it easy and organic, which isn’t always easy with eight people in a room.”
One of their most popular combined shows to date came last year, when they collaborated to play the entirety of Pink Floyd’s “Animals” album live. Now, the acts are getting together to reprise that show at DG’s Taphouse in Ames.
“It’s challenging,” Dudley said, when asked why that particular album was chosen. “It actually says something about humans and politics and how we behave in the world with each other. It’s not overdone and overheard the way that other Floyd albums are, and it’s a helluva lot of fun to play.”
The first time the bands decided to perform the album, they put in about 10 months of practice beforehand, working hard to get the technical challenges down. This time around, it took less time to re-learn the songs, and the bands had more time to work on the finer details of each song, which Dudley hopes will lead to an even stronger performance.
Before “Animals” is let loose, however, each band will play an opening set. Both Strong Like Bear and Electric Jury have EPs coming out on Dudley’s Nova Labs label, so expect to hear plenty of new original material along with the Floyd album.
“All of us have spent a lot of time learning all the details of the album,” Dudley said. “But we also like to have some of our own personality show through here and there, so it ends up feeling like a slightly raw — but utterly faithful and respectful — version of the album. Fans of the album won’t be disappointed, but we’re also not slavish to it; we throw energy down on it.” CV