IO ECHO

IO ECHO

Leopold Ross is a wearer of many hats, but he looks like he’s found one to keep in sharing his cap with Ioanna Gika as IO ECHO.  The duo form the core of the Los Angeles outfit, and they came to New York’s Terminal 5 on Friday, March 22nd while on tour with nineties alt-returnees Garbage.

Before IO ECHO, Ross had done everything from the hardcore band Error with brother Atticus (best known for his work with Trent Reznor in Nine Inch Nails and now How To Destroy Angels) and Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion) to composing music for the gone-too-soon USA series Touching Evil (the one that starred Jeffery Donovan before his not-as-good but far-more-successful also-on-USA series Burn Notice).  He was even the touring bassist in 2009/2010 for The Big Pink (QRO photos from that tour).  But in 2010 he teamed up with vocalist Ioanna Gika as IO ECHO.  They’ve released a few EPs, including last year’s self-titled one, before being picked to open for Garbage on the last North American leg of their Not Your Kind of People (QRO album review) tour.

That tour brought IO ECHO to a sold-out Terminal 5 (QRO venue review), which was packed even for the opener, despite their early set time.  The cavernous three-story venue had a stage that was a little hard for the group to fill – but it’s hard for a lot of acts to fill.  IO ECHO did still favor low lighting, and even if they couldn’t bring out the smoke machine they used the prior week at South-by-Southwest in Austin (QRO photos), they did still have their strobes behind Japanese-style paper walls (and one behind the drummer).  This did make it rather hard to see the band, but did lend to their ethereal presence.

With only seven songs on their short set list, IO ECHO didn’t have a lot of time to make an impression on a crowd that most probably had never heard of them (and a good percentage of the audience hadn’t listened to new music at all in fifteen-or-so years…).  The set had new pieces “Monsters” and “Ecstasy Ghost” early on, but the group really made their impression late with final three “Doorway”, “Ministry of Love”, and “When the Lillies Die”.  Gika in particular makes an effective frontwoman, both ethereal in her Japanese-style white, willowy kimono, but also in your face when she needs to be, like on the also rocking “Doorway”.  Okay, not quite Shirley Manson, at least not yet, but that requires flaming red hair & flaming Scottish accent…

While working on their debut full-length, IO ECHO did find time for some soundtrack work (Ross previously composed the soundtrack for Denzel Washington post-apocalyptic film Book of Eli), in Harmony Korine & James Franco’s video installation piece Rebel (about James Dean classic Rebel Without a Cause, featuring late actor Brad Renfro).  So even as Ross has settled down with Gika as IO ECHO, there’s still time for other activities – and the new band allows him to play in-the-background composer to her haunting frontwoman, not unlike two decades ago when Nevermind composer Butch Vig got behind Shirley Manson as Garbage.  Sometimes the best move a man can make is finding a good woman…

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