OK fine, I broke Shabbat to go see robots sing cover songs by Journey and Rick James. Got a problem with that?
For what it’s worth, I also davened (prayed) with the Atlanta Chevre Minyan, a pretty cool group of independent people doing a mixed Orthodox/Progressive service and one of the best oneg pot lucks I have ever seen.
At the Earl, I met up with my friend The Other Jeff Clark (also known as Jeff from Channel Zero, an Atlanta music scene icon). As I got out of my car, I remembered that I was still wearing my egalitarian kippah from the PunkTorah shop and thought, “mmmm, gee, better put on a hat instead.” So I threw on a hat over my yarmulke and ran in, just in time to catch the last few songs by The Falcon Lords, a band best described as superhero minimalist dance rock. Think Batman Forever chase scene music with the bravado of The Tick and a drum machine.
OK, on to Captured By Robots.
All I can say: coolest. thing. ever. And it helps that the singer Jay Vance (JBOT) is Jewish, and probably a genius.
The “group”, for lack of a better word, features one human (Jay), and a series of robots including DRMBOT 0110 (the drummer), GTRBOT666 (the guitar/bass player) and some stuffed apes that look like the demented cousins of the characters from Chuck-E-Cheese. Each robot actually plays an instrument, with Jay providing vocals and additional guitar.
What makes the show amazing is how Jay interacts with the robots, mostly DRMBOT and GTRBOT insulting him, the audience, and making sick, lewd jokes. I loved it. The on-stage conversations were seamless, and actually made you feel like these robots were alive (or maybe they were?)
Jay started off the set by asking if there were any Jews in the audience. Immediately my friend Jeff pulled my hat off, exposing my yarmulke. Jay got a kick out of it, and this “outing” gave me a chance, after the show, to talk to him.
I asked Jay about why, after thirteen years of Captured By Robots, he still does his act. “Because I believe in it,” he said, citing his work on a TV show featuring the band and the fact that he no longer needs a day job (Jay tours once a year with the group).
In 2005, Captured By Robots put out a CD based on the 1950’s film, “The Ten Commandments”. I asked Jay about it, and he said that the Exodus is the “greatest story ever told” (pun intended). He has been “watching the movie since [he] was a kid” and for him, “Heston is Moses.”
I asked Jay about his Jewish background and he replied, “I don’t go to seders or temple. When they [the Jews in my family] died, [my Judaism] was buried with them.” But for Jay, connecting his on-stage act with the Jewish people is about “heritage” and belonging to the culture. This included songs about the last plague of Egypt and a sex-romp about Nefretiri. I would make the argument that JBOT was a rabbi that night, not only connecting me with my Jewishness, but also creating an interfaith dialogue through metal-goes-dance-pop-rock. For a moment, we were a two person havurah (community).
Less talk, more rock. Check out Captured By Robots!
(image courtesy of Captured By Robots)