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Earth Radio takes the stage at Pyramid Scheme for an otherworldly album release show

Earth Radio's album release at the Pyramid Scheme was an immersive journey into jazz fusion. With captivating visuals and poetic lyrics, they explored themes of environmentalism and collaboration.

/Earth Radio

If I had to pick one word to describe Earth Radio, I’d go with immersive. The jazz fusion band celebrated the release of their latest album “If the Earth Could Speak,” on Saturday, April 20, at the Pyramid Scheme, providing the perfect soundtrack for the Jupiter-Uranus conjunction, which promises growth and liberation.

The night kicked off with Pocketwatch, a jazz-funk six-piece from Grand Rapids. According to its website, the band is comprised of alumni from Michigan State University and Berklee School of Music. Their sound combines heavy funk influences with the collaborative vibe of a jam band with a robust horns section and a penchant for liquid-smooth guitar licks. I heard hints of Pink Floyd throughout their set, but mostly, I was charmed and invigorated watching these six talented musicians collaborate for a captivating set.  The band thanked “the jazz fusion folk funk family of GR” as their set drew to a close.

GR indie rock mainstays Lipstick Jodi followed, providing an energetic and synth-heavy set. Frontperson K Morehouse took the stage in a white blazer and proceeded to banter with the pitfalls of queer crushes in between indie pop-inspired songs. I heard a hint of early Bleachers in the collaboration between Morehouse and guitarist Andy Fettig. They played several songs from their 2021 album, “More Like Me.”

“We’re not jazz, but we’re glad to be included,” Morehouse told the crowd.

I appreciated the wide range of genres in the three-band bill. Lipstick Jodi’s propulsive indie pop sound was a cool change of pace from Pocketwatch’s instrumental jazz funk. Lipstick Jodi also played their newest single, “Gotta Get It.”

Earth Radio took the stage just after 10 p.m., featuring Hannah Laine on lead vocals and keys, Justin Avdek on bass, David Ward on drums and percussion and Dutcher Snedeker on keys. 

Laine walked onstage wearing a sparkly black mesh crop top with lavender butterfly clips affixed to her dark hair. Laine’s voice has the same otherworldly quality as Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval. I couldn’t help but be transfixed and transported as she invited the audience to “turn off your mind, turn off your television” during the opening song. 

The set featured visuals by local artist Tess Clark, who is also a musician. Clark constructed a small cosmos onscreen, layering images of planets, galaxies and even fish to create a wholly original visual landscape.

The hypnotic nature of Clark’s visuals complemented the poetic nature of Laine’s lyrics. Songs like “Pipe Dream,” a song inspired by the Flint water crisis, which has been ongoing for ten years, were simultaneously gut-wrenching and captivating.

Earth Radio’s latest studio album, “If the Earth Could Speak”, was recorded on a self-sustaining farm in Vermont. Laine elaborated on the unique circumstances that produced the album. She told the crowd the band spent time “really listening to the Earth and our intuition. We came up with this prompt. If the Earth could speak, what would it say?”

Environmentalism and interdependence serve as the album’s thematic pillars. 

“It’s about getting in touch with the Earth and taking care of it because it is a part of us, and we are a part of it,” Laine told the crowd. 

At the start of the show, she encouraged the crowd to do breathwork together, which was probably the most grounded I’ve ever felt at the Pyramid Scheme.

It’s clear Earth Radio is in this together as collaborators and co-conspirators for a better world. There’s no such thing as a band hierarchy here. Instead, Earth Radio exists in a constant collaborative flow state. 

For the final track of the night, Laine explained, “[It’s] how we envision a river would flow, but with our voices,” before immersing the crowd in an otherworldly soundscape. In a time where music feels more and more like a disembodied experience of streaming metrics and press emails, Earth Radio’s album release gig was a welcome invitation to come back down to Earth.


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