Arriving in boots, cowboy hats and sequined attire, VOLK can take folks by surprise when the stage lights go up and overdrive pours from the cranked-up amplifiers.
And for a two-piece band, the crowd might find just as much astonishment in the scale of the sound blanketing the room.
“We often get the comment that, ‘we walked by and thought it was a four-piece band,’” drummer and vocalist Eleot Reich said on Saturday.
VOLK, out of Nashville, has garnered plenty of buzz during their first Mile of Music festival for a sound that seems at odds from an intellectual perspective, but just feels right as they work through their performance.
The duo will perform their final festival set among six at 6:20 p.m. tonight at Deja Vu Martini Lounge.
They bring an old country and blues sensibility, but with power, distortion and a bass drum kick that you can feel in the gut. They add a heaping helping of the outlaw country attitude to complete the package.
Reich beats the drums as if they offended her. On Saturday at OB’s Brau Haus, she tossed a snapped stick into the crowd.
By set’s end, her makeup was running down from her eyes no different than if she’d spent the time on a treadmill.
Guitarist and vocalist Chris Lowe makes strategic use of a loaded board of effects pedals and a dual amplifier system and moves effortlessly from crunchy and grungy to making his instrument scream at the crowd.
Reich said their sound was born from a love of old country and songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, “but we also love AC/DC, Queen and The Killers.”
“We have this weird middle ground between honky tonk and hard rock,” she said. “It works.”
It took trial and error and a firm understanding of musical structure to make it work.
For Lowe, it was a matter of getting a sound typically produced by two instruments out of one.
“Bass makes you move; guitar makes you listen,” he said. “I still wanted to make people move.”
He writes for guitar with the mind of a bassist, synopating chords to produce a bass line. He works in tandem with Reich to further flesh it out.
“When she goes high, I go low,” he said.
As much as audiences have been impressed by their fresh take on American music, they’ve been impressed with a festival that’s unusual in its own right.
Lowe said the full community effort put forth to make an event of the scope of Mile of Music successful is incredible.
He was more enamored with the mission of the festival as a “no cover zone” and a haven for below-the-radar, original artists who face an uphill battle by nature of what they do.
“Falling in love with a band that you’ve never seen or heard before — that’s something that’s been lost,” Lowe said. “It’s been a lot of fun for us.”