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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Dusty Rhodes a high-energy hootenanny

    Dusty Rhodes and the River Band defy categorization. On one hand, the six-piece outfit from Orange County rocks out old school with yowling Creedence-esque vocals, layered guitar, synth riffs and singalong Motown flair. On the other, they’ve got a fiddle.

    “”We’re a bunch of dichotomies and oxymorons that somehow work,”” admits Edson Choi, one of the band’s two guitarists and multiple vocalists.

    Choi is joined onstage every night by vocalist/keyboardist/fount of energy Dustin Apodaca (the titular “”Dusty”” in Dusty Rhodes), guitarist and vocalist Kyle Divine, violinist and random instrument expert Andrea Babinski, bassist Brad Babinski and drummer Eric Chirco. It is the coalescence of these six diverse and strong personalities to which Choi attributes the band’s unusual harmony.

    With grassroots titles about “”Leavin’ Tennessee”” or being a rough-and-tumble “”Street Fighter,”” it might be tempting to classify Rhodes as Southern rock. But spurts of synth-heavy psychedelia complicate that description.

    The band’s genre is elusive, even to its members. “”I’m gonna say (the band falls into) rock, because rock is so all encompassing,”” Choi said. “”I mean, people know you’re gonna have guitars, drums and a bass … but I feel like rock just means like high-energy, you know?””

    By that definition, Dusty Rhodes is about as rocking as they come. Starting out in Orange County when punk and screamo were the order of the day, the band have pushed themselves constantly to match the energy of their rowdier peers without compromising the communal effort that defines their sound. Six members on one stage can be a tight squeeze, but that doesn’t prevent frontman Apodaca from garnishing his vocal performances with lighthearted twirls and bobs of his curly mane, nor does it prevent Choi from throwing his whole body into a single guitar lick, or Andrea from dominating the stage with a blistering violin solo.

    “”(It’s like) being this little flower in this desert with a violin and harmonies amongst all these punk bands,”” Choi said.

    Though Choi, Divine and Apodaca usually split songwriting duties, a Dusty Rhodes song will more often than not focus on the unity of the entire band, not its specific members. “”We don’t want to be the band buffet — and you just go there because you like the shrimp,”” Choi said. “”We want to provide an overall cohesive experience.””

    For a musical experience not quite like any you’ve had before, check out Dusty Rhodes and the River Band at midnight on the Mountain Stage. Bring a lighter and some moonshine. The switch from power ballad to hootenanny could come at any moment.

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