"I'd rather be an angsty teenager than a depressed old guy sitting at the bar," muses Brandon Atencio, one of the two lead singers of Albuquerque rap-rock five-piece The Isness. Atencio's self-reflection goes a long way in describing what his band is all about.
With the youthful exuberance in Atencio and fellow lyricist Alex Bachicha's vocals, added to the hyperactive and wholly unapologetic genre-bending that is so much of their sonic persona, The Isness is, in many ways, tailored to the kids. That isn't to say that their sound is immature, or that the band has any desire to shut out audience members of any age. In fact, just the opposite is true. It's just when a band is young at heart (and in this case, in age as well), that childlike energy just can't help but shine through.
Musically, The Isness is a bit like Rage Against the Machine on a mild sedative, or a less electronic Linkin Park. Add in a dash of funk, a smattering of ska and a few lyrical references to the impending apocalypse, and you've got what the band's website describes as "hiphopunkadelia."
As for their curious name, many explanations were offered for the meaning of "The Isness." Perhaps the most coherent comes from Bachicha, who says, "Whenever you say something is you say it exists, and when you add the suffix ness you say that the thing you're referring to has a certain quality. So, therefore, The Isness is the quality of existing. It's a state of being, essentially."
That's good enough for me.
The Isness is eagerly awaiting their show at UNM's Hokona Hall on Saturday. It's the band's first all-ages show in a while, and Bachicha says the gig will "give a lot of our friends who aren't of age a chance to see us play and, hopefully, there'll be a lot of other people as well."
As for the upcoming holiday, Atencio seems to have had his share of figurative kicks to the groin via St. Valentine. "I advise people to avoid love," Attencio jests. "Lest you one day lose it."
Individuals of all ages, shapes and sizes are welcome to enjoy The Isness' performance at Hokona Hall on Friday, Feb. 11. Dorm kids are especially fortunate to be able to walk out of their rooms and into a show that also features top-tier local acts The Ya Ya Boom Project, The Regents and Van Buren. Show starts at 8 p.m.