Superorder might be the most ambitious band in Portland. When asked to provide a simple description of the band, head visionary and guitarist Zak Taillon explained the group’s music as “sonic explorations of metaphysical topics in the style of dream-pop, prog-rock, power-metal, melodic-jazz, and shoegaze song structures that juxtapose live performance against walls of electronic sound design akin to guided meditations, underwater levels in 16-bit video games, and soundtracks to cult films of the ’70s and ’80s.”
Clearly, he’s a man who lives by the dictum go big or go home. That’s just what Superorder plans to do Saturday, when they play an all ages and entirely free show at Bayside Bowl. They’ve assembled an admirably diverse bill of Maine and New Hampshire artists to join them: there’s Old Etc., an indie folk-rock hybrid act fronted by Zak’s sister, Elizabeth Taillon. Then there’s New Hampshire-based acts Rick Rude and New Legs, offering what Taillon calls “skateboarding, beer-drinking slacker punk jams,” and “crushing post-emo pop-punk,” respectively.
The roots of Superorder lie in a fateful move cross country to the other Portland, where Taillon found himself permanently stranded with neither guitar nor amplifier. “For the first time in my life I had no instruments to play at home, which made me feel totally insane and musically starving in a way I had never experienced,” he said. He found solace in a forgotten copy of Logic 8, and learned to produce music himself entirely on his computer. “I set a goal for myself to compose a 60-minute instrumental rock-opera called ‘Ten Cities,’ which would consist of nine different movements, each separated by an ambient soundscape except for the ninth,” Taillon explained, “which would end on the first note of the first movement so that the entire piece could be experienced as a cohesive, never-ending loop.”
After a brief spell cooped up in his room, fiendishly devouring everything digital music production had to offer, Taillon moved back to Maine and began performing as a one-man band under the “Superorder” moniker. By adding more members over time, and by amassing a giant collection of lights and projectors, Superorder became the insanely futuristic psychedelic metal act it is today. A typical live set from the band has them draped in near-total darkness, lit by a kaleidoscopic assortment of LEDs and a synchronized video landscape that shifts tonally from song to song with the band. Within the trippy atmospherics, Taillon and company shred their way through highly technical instrumentals that sound like Yngwie Malmsteen trapped inside a Sega Genesis, mid crack-binge.
Though Taillon has a penchant for big words, and operates conceptually at a level most folks on the street might have trouble understanding, he stresses that the root of Superorder’s music is actually more timeless than it may appear: “Ultimately, the mission of Superorder is to manifest beauty, adventure, and transcendence in the listener without the persuasion of lyrical content.” If you look past the verbiage, you’ll find that Taillon is aiming to achieve the same thing musicians the world over have struggled with for centuries. He’s not that different from Beethoven, or Ravi Shankar, or Benny Goodman — he just uses a lot more lasers.
— Jakob Battick
Superorder, Old Etc., Rick Rude, and New Legs | Saturday, Feb 28 at Bayside Bowl | Free, all ages