by Kira Brekke
Since 2003, progressive rock and improv group ARJUN has been fusing these two unexpected genres together in the most fluid of ways. Needless to say, this instrumental-only band should have much more of a following than they do, which barely hits 2,000 Facebook "likes." How do I know? Because they completely and totally crushed their show last Friday at Rockwood Music Hall.
The final act of the evening, they walked onstage with a reserved, unassuming air to them. Then, for the next 45 minutes, ARJUN took us on an emotionally electric journey that left listeners with bulging eyes. The group is made up of shaggy-haired Eddie Arjun on guitar, Lamar Myers on drums (rocking a turquoise fedora, tight black jeans, and no shirt), and Andre Lyes on bass. They didn’t interact much with one another throughout the show, yet they somehow combined to produce something remarkable: dirty rock with hints of jazz.
As soon as the show began, the trio came out firing from their musical hips, playing songs from their latest album, Space—an awesomely adventurous collection that evokes emotional victory by way of the band's unadulterated flair. Eddie's guitar work resembles that of Gary Clark, Jr.; as a whole, the band recalls a combo of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Pink Floyd, with a hint of Queen.
As usual at Rockwood, the crowd was eclectic. One older man standing next to me couldn't take his eyes off of Eddie's fingers as they fluidly danced across the strings. "What the f*ck?!" he kept saying as he looked around to get support from his fellow patrons. Another man dressed in plaid said, "Even though this isn't my kind of music . . . wow!" as he proceeded to crush the air guitar.
Towards the end of the show, Eddie, channeling Radiohead circa In Rainbows, said: "Take a CD, pay whatever you want." Within minutes, a cardboard box that sat on the edge of the stage was emptied of CDs and full of cash.
With instrumental rock being somewhat on the fringe, it's unclear where ARJUN will go from here. But, those lucky enough to have seen them one thing: They know how to rock.