Empty Space Orchestra
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Empty Space Orchestra

Bend, Oregon, United States | INDIE

Bend, Oregon, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock


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Empty Space Orchestra @ Tower Theater w/ The Helio Sequence

Bend, Oregon, USA

Bend, Oregon, USA

Empty Space Orchestra @ UFO Festival

McMinnville, Oregon, USA

McMinnville, Oregon, USA

Empty Space Orchestra @ Sam Bonds Garage

Eugene, Oregon, USA

Eugene, Oregon, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



ay, May 8th, 2009, 2:04 pm by Ben Salmon

The new blog is only a few hours old, and already I’m having to resist the urge to curse. Because holy freakin’ smokes, man, the Empty Space Orchestra laid waste to Father Luke’s Room at McMenamins Old St. Francis School on Wednesday night.

Mingling between and after the band’s two sets, I told anyone who would listen how much better I thought ESO is right now than they were even six months ago, when I saw them at Silver Moon.

There was some serious pre-funk buzz about this gig, and that fed a good-sized crowd there to see the Empty Spacers fete the release of their new album, “Big Bang,” with a powerful show that stretched well beyond the two-hour mark.

The first set was dedicated to songs from “Big Bang,” and the second to newer material.

The band’s founding trio – drummer Lindsey Elias, guitarist Shane Thomas and keyboardist Keith O’Dell – recorded the album, as you may already know, with saxophone player Graham Jacobs, who has since departed for Costa Rica for a while. As a result, “Big Bang” has a fairly jazzy feel, and so did Wednesday’s first set. There were moments of dense, instrumental rock ‘n’ roll, but even when ESO tried to rough up the older tracks (relatively speaking; they’re a year old or less), O’Dell’s cascading keyboard parts kept things light.

But that didn’t last long. The band ended its first set with the getting-to-be-famous all-hands-on-drums breakdown of “Pandamonium.” It was a harbinger of things to come.

With Jacobs gone indefinitely, Elias, Thomas and O’Dell brought in local super-bassist Pat Pearsall a few months ago, allowing Thomas – who had been playing bass – to move to guitar.

The effect is monstrous.

In between sets, I told Thomas I wanted my face melted, and he and his mates delivered. Empty Space’s new stuff is heavier and more varied, ranging from Atari-style bleeps and bloops to bona fide prog-rock to damn near heavy metal. The addition of guitar has moved ESO from an indie-jazz outfit to a muscular rock band in the same vein as Austin, Texas instrumental heroes Explosions In The Sky.

Thomas wrangles terrific noises out of his guitar. O’Dell adds color and texture. Pearsall’s bass rumbles like a fast-moving storm. And Elias is as ferocious a drummer as you’ll see in this town. She’s not only the engine for this ship, she’s also the rudder. Together, the quartet unleashed a flood of creativity, playing stuff that sounded like the soundtrack to space exploration, and other stuff that sounded like the Oompa Loompa song re-written for the year 3000.

It was hard not to keep my jaw off the floor, frankly, as a new song called “Clouds” evolved from droning groove to chugging rock to an airy pop song with a centipede piano melody.

And people love the percussion freakouts, where all four members man drums of some kind. It’s a polyrhythmic spectacle, thudding and tribal. Thomas even banged on a shovel, though the most enduring image of the evening was watching him pound a floor tom, winding up like he was driving a stubborn nail.

When all the noise finally stopped, and the cheering faded out, I couldn’t help feel like I had watched something special. Because watching a band become awesome is special.
- Frequency Blog

Empty Space Orchestra – Arguably the most buzzed about band in town, ESO finally lays its all-instrumental magic on wax with a record expected sometime in April. The one track we’ve heard should make it worth the wait.

- Mike Bookey - The Source Weekly - Bend,OR

...But back at the Wig Out, just after El Dante and Wotta took us into the New Year, the members of Empty Space Orchestra gradually made their way onto the stage, adding percussion and instrumentation to the blend. Soon the members of El Dante dissipated, leaving ESO on stage for what was technically the instrumental powerhouse’s first show of 2009. They soared through cuts from their soon-to-be released record, entered a fierce percussion jam and wore some outrageous wigs and costumes. If this night was a sample of what we’ll hear in 2009, then it should be a pretty damn good year. Here’s hopin’.

- Mike Bookey - The Source Weekly - 01/07/09

Fresh off their flashy showing in the GO! Magazine music section’s look back at 2008 (where a handful of local scene-stars cited them among the best things going), the Empty Space Orchestra will get an opportunity to strut their stuff at one of McMenamins Old St. Francis School’s coveted Wednesday-night gigs.

In about a year of existence, the Orchestra has become one of the more talked-about bands in Bend, thanks mostly to their groove-happy, eclectic sound. The trio (plus whatever buddies they happen to invite into the set) bounces back and forth between tightly wound, jazzy indie-rock and vigorous improvisational jams, all done instrumentally so as to maximize activity on the dance floor.

The band is currently recording its first album, and a couple songs are up at www.myspace .com/esorchestra if you want to try before you buy. Though Wednesday’s show is free, so there’s really no risk to you, now is there? This is a chance to see one of the region’s fastest-rising bands for free. You just can’t beat it.

- GO! Magazine 01/09/09

Empty Space Orchestra

Bend-based indie-jazz-rock band

1. The EPIC windstorm at the Coyote Festival, and the post-mayhem campfire pickin’ session with members of the Moon Mountain Ramblers, Empty Space Orchestra, Mosley Wotta, and Organic Time Machine! YES! Good times!

2. The Bend Roots Revival. Every day of the festival we ate and drank like kings, and didn’t pay for ANY of it. Thanks Mark!

3. Naked band-dipping at the Outback Festival/Keith’s pants falling down around the campfire. Whiskey.

4. Playing with our amazing saxophone player, Graham Jacobs.

5. Kaki King at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge. Shane and Lindsey’s first AWESOME show in a bar!


Kristal Salladay

Bartender at Players Bar & Grill

4. Empty Space Orchestra: I really don’t know what to say about them. Go see a show!


Joe Schulte

Owner, String Theory Music and Moon Mountain Ramblers’ mandolin player

7. Empty Space Orchestra: All shows.


Dale Largent

Drummer, Moon Mountain Ramblers and Coyo

“What do you mean ‘5’? 2008 needs at least 10-15 slots!!!!! What about Brent Alan at 4 Peaks, the new Taarka lineup at Oregon Country Fair, or the development of the Empty Space Orchestra?”


Erin Cole-Baker

Folk singer

3. The Empty Space Orchestra!!!

- By Ben Salmon - The Bulletin - 12/18/08


Empty Space Orchestra - May 10th, 2011 - Empty Space Unlimited

ESO "Live" Limited Pressing - 2010 - Self Released

Big Bang - 2009 - Self Released



Empty Space Orchestra certainly knows how to fill a room. The Bend, OR quintet of impeccable musicians crafts a symphonic, melodic sound that seamlessly weaves together elements of space rock, prog-metal, noir jazz, post-rock and afro-punk all in one massive blast of energy. Having built up a substantial following in the Pacific Northwest, the band will release their self-titled debut album in May and bring their genre-defying sound nationwide.

Their 9-song, 50-minute self-titled debut album is a hook-laden marriage of heft and harmony that veers far away from the navel-gazing jamming often associated with music of such explorative origins. Elements of The Mars Volta's most frenetic moments merge with soaring post-rock of Russian Circles, as well as hints of Deftones, Dub Trio and lilting chamber pop all colliding in brilliant synergy from one song to the next.

The group of classically-trained musicians is anchored by the stunning power and precision of drummer Lindsey Elias -- clearly a musician soon to hold rank amongst her most celebrated male counterparts. Guitarist Shane Thomas and bassist Patrick Pearsall provide a balance of head-bobbing riffs interspersed with tasteful and inventive lines that weave like musical narrative throughout. Meanwhile, multi-instrumentalists Keith O'Dell (keyboards, piano, lap steel) and Graham Jacobs (saxophone, flute, synths) add myriad melodic layers and cinematic moods that often deftly counterbalance heavy riffs with glissando piano melodies and swaggering horns.

The disc was recorded at the popular The Hangar Studios in Sacramento, CA with engineer Robert Cheek (RX Bandits, Deftones, Tera Melos) and mixed by Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Pearl Jam, ISIS) at Red Room Studios in Seattle, WA. Since the band's inception in late 2007, ESO has built a devoted and rapidly growing fan base in the Northwest exclusively on the weight of their highly memorable live performances. While the album perfectly showcases the band's musical precision, it must be noted that ESO is an extremely loud band -- quite possibly the loudest band you will ever see with a saxophone on stage.

"I was spending a lot of time thinking about what Miles Davis used to say; ‘It’s not about the space you play, but the space you leave,'" explains Thomas. "That’s where the ‘Empty Space’ came from… ironically we don’t leave much space in our music." Nonetheless, the sum of Empty Space Orchestra's myriad parts never seem bloated, overblown or obtrusive.

Empty Space Orchestra's self-titled debut will be available everywhere on CD/Digital on May 10th.