By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
At Mwanza Dover's final Mazinga Phaser II performance, it's unfortunate--but somehow appropriate--that a former Dover bandmate stole the show. Headliner the Great Tyrant, fronted by Daron Beck (formerly of the Pointy Shoe Factory and Dover's keyboardist in Falkon), erased any memory of Mazinga's faltering set with a bizarre half-hour of coffin-dark rock. Vocal effects alternately gave Beck voice-of-God depth and the guttural roar of a B-movie demon, and his keys spit forth insane-asylum piano dissonance and horror-movie organ blasts. The synth-bass-drums trio proved that it didn't need any guitars, thanks to the ferocious noise-rock rhythm of former Yeti members Tommy Atkins and Jon Teague. Their interplay of complex, jazzy drums and bass was straight-faced even if Beck's performance (complete with an under-the-chin work light and black undertaker suit) had a campy side to it, especially during his set-closing cover of Phil Collins' "I Don't Care Anymore."
MPII's goodbye, unfortunately, was a mess, played by a thrown-together lineup in front of a small and unenthusiastic crowd. The original Mazinga Phaser's atmospheric soundscapes epitomized the Denton space-rock scene of the mid-'90s, but the band never seemed to find its identity when Dover resurrected it in 2004 for occasional shows with new and interchangeable players. At Saturday's two-song show, they covered This Heat's "The Fall of Saigon" and aborted a second song after Dover complained he couldn't hear himself. The band deserved a better ending, but the poor finale might be the impetus Dover needs to put Mazinga behind him and focus on his solo album, an ambitious project with songs averaging 40 to 60 tracks for Lawrence, Kansas, label Mixtape Meditations.
Dover wasn't the only person bothered by sound problems. Dallas' Pegasus Now spent much of the first half of their set adjusting levels, though the second half was a nice sample of the six-piece's organ-tinged pop with scratchy, funky guitars.
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