The German heavy metal band Scorpions often propose to “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” In 2005, van*gloria, a newly formed rock group in Miami, Florida composed of fellow music students Nick Kruge, Paul Bender, Luke Moellman, and Matt Gajewski, learned the hard way that being rocked like a hurricane isn’t quite as desirable as Scorpions make it sound, as Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma ravaged their neighborhood and knocked out all the power to their home.
Still, being rocked like a hurricane wasn’t all bad. van*gloria used the dark, languid hours of the post-hurricane power outages to write most of the material for their debut self-titled album, which mixed danceable indie rock with elliptical lyrics, brooding digital atmospherics, the occasional skitter-shot electronic beat, and the jazz-influenced playing of van*gloria’s rhythm section. Following the self-release of their first album, van*gloria played numerous shows in all corners of Miami, both at traditional venues—Studio A, Flavour, I/O, PS14, The District, Churchill’s, Jazid—and untraditional—a seafood restaurant, a walk-a-thon, a wakeboarding competition. Along the way, they opened for the Benevento Russo Duo at the University of Miami and won a Downbeat Award for Outstanding Performance in the Blues/Pop/Rock category. Hurricane season was long over. The weather in Miami was glorious. All the lights were on.
In late 2008, after over two years of loving labor, van*gloria completed their second album, Bluebird. Whereas van*gloria’s first album essentially documented the sound of the quartet’s live performances, Bluebird makes full use of the myriad possibilities of multitrack recording: horn sections, strings, woodwinds, wall-of-sound vocal harmonies, live drums miscegenated with cut-up samples, blips, beeps, synth swells, clattering percussion, musique concrete. Touching on genres ranging from sunny jazz-rock to Led Zeppelin-esque crunch to Michael Jackson pop to Steve Reichian minimalism, Bluebird is the sound of the band grasping every which way for inspiration and yet somehow fashioning all these disparate elements into a cohesive, unified whole—a musical collage, a sonic gumbo (or would you perhaps prefer a bouillabaisse?).
Now, in the summer of 2009, prior to yet another hurricane season, van*gloria embark on their first ever tour, a six-week excursion across the Eastern U.S. Joining them is new member Andrew Maguire, ably playing keyboards and auxiliary percussion, including but not limited to the maracas and the cabasa. Check out the tour dates to see if they're coming to the major metropolitan area nearest you!