By Max Foley
CALGARY — This author’s first brush with Terravita set a hell of a precedent. In the depths of the seemingly unending revelry at Shambhala two years ago, the trio was in the midst of hosing down the crowd with an ocean’s worth of bass, until the torrential downpour trickled to a halt in a catastrophic PK-flavored meltdown. A triplicate of confused faces looked around behind the decks, with vocalist Jon Spero’s mic hanging limply. A lone air horn echoed across the Village. Spero said a few words into the microphone—the sole piece of equipment still functioning —before leading the crowd into clapping a beat for him. For the next three minutes, he pacified the sound-starved crowd with a blistering freestyle that would later be dubbed the ‘Technical Difficulties” rap. It was the type of thing that could only happen at Shambhala.
So, then, how does Terravita measure up, two years down the road, fresh off the release of their new The Fallen EP and in the midst of a colossal tour?
Chris Barlow, the man behind the decks at Terravita, phoned in from Boston with a contagious enthusiasm that could only be dissuaded with another, tougher question: what happened with Matt Simmers? Why is Terravita suddenly a duo, and not the trio that endured almost a decade under two different aliases?
From Barlow’s account of the split, it seems like Simmers had a change of heart, and wanted to pursue different avenues for himself. But it’s far from a messy divorce. “If Matt got in touch with me and asked me to plug his new stuff for him, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I still love the guy. There’s no bad blood there,” Barlow says. His pragmatism is a refreshing change of pace from the dumpster fire breakups that seem typical of the scene.
With this in mind, how does their latest release hold up? Barlow mentioned that The Fallen was a bit of a mold-breaker for them. But that seems par for the course when you’re dealing with the group that put drumstep on the map. Their decision to move in a more “hybrid-trap” direction, paired with an emphasis on Spero’s vocals, seems bold, but perhaps not bold enough. The album as a whole is interesting, but could use more depth in its production.
However, judging Spero and Barlow on their latest work wouldn’t do them justice. Live sets are where they truly shine, and it’s clear that they perform incredibly well under pressure. It’s too early to tell whether Simmers’ departure will sink them, but if you know anything about Terravita, you’re hardly fazed and know they’ll put on a good show.
Terravita plays Marquee Beer Market & Stage in Calgary on May 13th and at Union Hall in Edmonton on May 14th.AB, Alberta, Marquee Beer Marhet & Stage, Terravita