By the fall of 2007, Pattern Is Movement -- which started as a five-piece band -- finished shedding members, ending up as a duo.
Drummer Chris Ward recalled last week that the remaining members booked a tour before they'd even figured out exactly what the new incarnation would sound like. "That was the dumbest idea ever," he said of the tour.
They'd written a new album -- what ended up being 2008's All Together -- "not knowing that we could ever perform those songs," he said. "We hoped we could. We were banking on that. But we had no proof. We had never been a two-piece ever."
mp3 "Jenny Ono"
The dumb idea got dumber when the headliner of one concert canceled, and the venue offered Pattern Is Movement more money for a longer show; the band accepted. On the drive to the performance, Ward and keyboardist/singer Andrew Thiboldeaux picked four songs to cover to flesh out the set, and the drummer admits that it didn't go well. "The crowd didn't really like the show," he said.
But Pattern Is Movement's take on Radiohead's "Everything in Its Right Place" that night was an epiphany for both band and audience. "They loved that cover," Ward said. "They freaked out."
The original song is a keyboard and Thom Yorke's voice (both straight and heavily manipulated), and Ward said both were a good match for Thiboldeaux's falsetto and Rhodes - one of two keyboards he plays on stage, along with bass pedals.
"It anchored us; it just connected with the audience," Ward said. "I felt they were able to understand our songs a little more. ... That cover really opened up a direction for us as a band."
After three U.S. tours, the Philadelphia-based duo certainly has a better sense of itself, with the results on display at Huckleberry's on Saturday in a Daytrotter.com show. The covers these days are more cheeky --Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love" and D'Angelo's "Untitled (How Does It Feel)" -- and the band is undoubtedly sunnier than Yorke and company, but that Kid A-era Radiohead touchstone remains. With Rhodes, Mellotron, drums, and Thiboldeaux's airy voice, the sound is warm and burnished but complicated with the experimental textures of jazz and the subtle variations of minimalism.
While it's took the band six years from its 2001 founding to arrive at its current form, the destination isn't surprising. Ward and Thiboldeaux were a Christian-rap group in their early teens, formed a band in high school, and assembled Pattern Is Movement after college.
It was awkward to lose members regularly, Ward said: "Every time somebody saw us, we were a different band. 'Oh, there's four of you ... ? Oh, no, three, right? What? Hold on, there's two of you now?' ... You can't really get into a band when you don't have a clue what they're trying to do."
But that process helped the two recognize that they were the band by themselves. "As people started leaving, it just became apparent," he said.
mp3 "Right Away"
The duo wants to make complex, challenging music, Ward said, "but when you boil them down, he [Thiboldeaux] wants people to walk away and whistle them."
A great song, he added, "can always be pared down to a kick and a snare and an accordion, or a piano. That essentially is what we already are."
Pattern Is Movement will perform at Huckleberry's ( in Rock Island) on Saturday, June 6. The all-ages show also features The Netherfriends and starts at 7 p.m. Admission is $6.
For more information on Pattern Is Movement, visit MySpace.com/patternismovement. To hear the band's Daytrotter.com session, click here.