On an April evening, despite a slight chill in the air, hundreds of Brainiac fans from near and far assembled at the Brightside Music and Event Venue. For one night only, the dream of the 90s was alive in Dayton as Brainiac’s remaining members, along with a rotation of special guests, graced the stage for the one of only a handful of shows in 22 years, bringing a renewed energy to a timeless sound.
Brainiac was formed in 1992 when singer, songwriter, guitarist, and keyboard player Tim Taylor, bassist Juan Monasterio, guitarist Michelle Bodine, and drummer Tyler Trent joined forces. After their first album, Bodine left the group and John Schmersal took her place. Brainiac quickly caught on in Dayton and beyond largely due to their electrifying live performances and unique, futuristic sound. During their rise to fame, they played Lollapalooza and opened for Beck on tour. In 1997, they were in the process of signing with a major label when Tim Taylor tragically passed away while driving home one night. In the wake of his death, Brainiac disbanded.
The reunion show on was set to commemorate Transmissions After Zero, a documentary about Brainiac filmed by once-local musician turned filmmaker, Eric Mahoney, which debuted earlier this year at SXSW in Austin, Texas. The Neon screened the Dayton debut of Transmissions the week of the concert giving fans the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the Brainiac experience all weekend long.
Leading up to the concert, Dayton seemed to be preparing itself. The show sold out, offered more tickets, and sold out again. Meanwhile, Warped Wing Brewery launched a lively pale ale in honor of these historic events aptly named 3RA1N1AC. Brightside Music and Event Center hosted artists Tiffany Clark and Etch to work their magic creating Brainiac-themed art right on their walls.
Opening for futuristic, synth-punk, noise rock legends isn’t something just any band can do. Cincinnati-based Lung was up to the challenge and rallied the crowd around their unique sound using only vocals, cello, and drums. When describing the experience of performing in front of such a large crowd at the Brightside, Lung lead singer Kate Wakefield said, “Holy hell, it was insane.”
When Brainiac took the stage, the audience naturally went wild, however the absence of front man Tim Taylor was felt deeply and no one performer was able to replace him. In fact, six different special guest vocalists stepped in, including Kate Wakefield from opening act Lung, John Schmersal, who replaced Michelle Bodine on guitar after Brainiac’s first album, local musician Steve Schmoll, Tim Krug of Oh Condor, Brainiac documentarian and Murder Your Darlings vocalist Eric Mahoney, and original Brainiac guitarist Michelle Bodine.
After the show, fans marveled at the artwork inspired by the music, and the wildly energetic performance of a band halted in its prime, its genius perhaps never fully realized. For one night, Brainiac fans had the chance to relive a sound they hadn’t heard live in two decades and a community celebrated one of its most beloved bands. Brainiac had a sound so far ahead of its time no one before or since has matched it. While other bands from the 1990s sound dated and bound by their time period, Brainiac sounds virtually timeless, proving even 22 years later that they had and have no peer.
Photos by the Brightside staff, Lauren Rhineheart and Jan Underwood.
Girl About Dayton writes about her love of the Dayton region for Dayton.com and posts her adventures to social media (@girlaboutdayton). Keep up to date by visiting her temporary website [girlaboutdayton.weebly.com]. A huge thank you to Lauren for coming to the show, and telling us all about it!