Way back when this here blog was in its infancy, I offered a podcast recommendation — my only one to date — for Uhh Yeah Dude, an hour-long comedic show that I’ve found to be wildly addicting. Part of the pull has to do with the two hosts’ conversational idiosyncrasies. Emphasizing the wrong syllables of words and names is big (just ask Lady GuhGAH), as is giving out Jonathan’s actual cell phone number whenever he says something that could be construed as offensive. But my favorite quirk of all pops up when a train of thought has reached its absurd terminus, and laughter or ridiculousness renders the two hosts speechless. In those moments, either Seth or Jonathan will often squeeze out a beleaguered…
“I can’t. I just… I can’t.”
It’s their way of waving the white flag when something is just too much. This rhetorical device never fails to make me smile, because being happily overwhelmed — whether it’s by laughter, joy, relief or something else entirely — is one of the best sensations a person can have, and it just so happens to be the way my brain reacts when I watch The Trillions.
During last night’s show at The Camel, which followed an excellent opening set by The Devil Whale, I tried composing a tweet about what I was seeing. I wanted to talk about how my face looks disgusted when Charlie Glenn solos, despite the fact that I couldn’t be happier or more engrossed in those moments… and I wanted to say something about how I feel spoiled when I see them live, like however much I paid to get in wasn’t enough… and I wanted to include a line about how it’s becoming more and more clear that The Trillions are a true Richmond treasure, like the James River or enthusiasm for brunch… but all these ideas crowded each other out, and I ended up backspacing my way to a blank screen, putting my phone back in my pocket, and blissfully thinking…
“I can’t. I just… I can’t.”
My brain was waving the white flag. The Trillions’ exacting execution and tight songwriting plus the speed and accuracy with which Glenn navigates his fretboard multiplied by the group’s deft manipulation of the relationships between notes… it’s too much to process all at once, and certainly too much to fit into a 140 character format. I’d place that feeling of being overtaken among the most hallowed effects of music, along with emotions like joy, exhilaration, comfort, and catharsis. These are the things we ask art to help us find in ourselves — often when we need to experience those feelings most — and I’m so glad to be able to drive just a few minutes down the road and see a band that can conjure in me the bliss that comes with being totally bowled over.
One of my favorite examples of Glenn’s guitar work appears near the end of “Goodbye Rubbish Head,” which itself appeared near the end of last night’s headlining set. His solo is set off into 4 sections: three are mind-boggling, measure-long bursts of rapid-fire notes, but the fourth is blank — just string noise and a little feedback. I love that measure. It’s as if the solo has thrown it’s own hands up in the air, giving you 4 beats to process what you just heard before the song dives back into its chorus.
See what I mean by listening to the album version below, and click here to buy The Trillions’ A-plus album Tritones on iTunes (say that 5 times fast).