Now touring in support of its first album in eight years, Dub Trio is returning to the Santa Barbara Bowl on September 26 for its first lone performance at the venue. The Brooklyn-founded trio consisting of bassist Stu Brooks, guitarist DP Holmes, and drummer Joe Tomino last played the Bowl in 2013 as the backing band for orthodox Jewish rapper and singer Matisyahu, the band’s main gig for a decade between 2009 and 2019. Once again on its own, the trio will open for headliner Incubus and deliver a set full of spontaneous sound effects and improvisation.
In the years since the band released it’s last album, 2011’s “IV,” Dub Trio has toured with Matisyahu and each of its members have played with and produced albums by other artists. Mr. Tomino toured with hip hop group The Fugees and Mr. Brooks produced Matisyahu’s 2014 album “Akeda.” According to Mr. Brooks, in 2015 the band started piecing together what would become its latest release “The Shape of Dub to Come,” which was finished in 2018 and finally released this year.
The group performs music for which it is named, “dub.” When asked to explain its definition for the uninitiated, Mr. Brooks described it as an offshoot of reggae music, with his group’s take on it incorporating elements of rock, punk, metal, and shoegazing. However, the bassist added that “dub is a process, not necessarily a genre,” particularly referring to the band’s improvised use of sound effects and noise manipulation. Though for some bands adding sound effects is the job of a sound engineer, the three members of Dub Trio generate all their effects while playing onstage.
While Dub Trio’s songs have normal song structure, in concert the band expands them with improvised sections during which the members respond to one another by manipulating their sounds. For instance, if Mr. Brooks and Mr. Tomino are playing a bassline and drumbeat, respectively, they can choose in the moment to have the drums fall away for four beats or for the bassline to receive a healthy dose of reverb. With a performing style like this, no two live versions of a Dub Trio song are exactly the same.
“Each live version is a unique version of that song,” Mr. Brooks said.
Though some tracks of the band’s new album do feature guest vocalists like Troy Sanders from Mastodon, Dub Trio is primarily an instrumental band. When asked how it’s different performing with a signer such as Matisyahu versus performing alone as Dub Trio, Mr. Brooks said playing as a backing band demands that his group cater to the desires of the frontman and forego certain things it would do on its own.
Describing Dub Trio concerts as an “uncompromising zone,” the bassist said the shows where they perform on their own are where the band’s “schizophrenic” nature is most apparent. With its spontaneous sound alteration, Dub Trio can “switch on a dime” from sounding beautiful to abrasive. That said, Mr. Brooks does credit the band’s Matisyahu tours with keeping Dub Trio together for most of each year and in a consistent state of development.Tickets for Incubus and Dub Trio’s performance at the Santa Barbara Bowl can be purchased online at www.sbbowl.com. The concert will begin at 7:00 p.m.