I should’ve known. Had I been made aware of the band’s prior performance convictions, I might have had an inkling of what lay in store. It’s not all too often that a band gets labelled, even if by the literary vacuity that is Entertainment Weekly, as the “Blue Man Group of Rock.” At least then, having later learned of a show encore composed solely of a re-enactment of the closing scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey, I might not have considered it such an unbefitting legend for a band of Oxes stridently ferrous aural proclivities. But I didn’t. And it was probably better that way. I expected there to be grilled musical thrashings served by virtue of the support acts, Lords & Bilge Pump. What I wasn’t expecting was the rock n’ roll cabaret that ensued. Oxes are an instrumental trio from Baltimore, Maryland who, for want of a better musical classification, play math rock; functions and algorithms knocked out of shape by the battered riff-wounded remains of 70s metal deities. And they play it well, devising bastard equations, borne out of serrated tonal edges that jitter furtively, slowly coaxing out the metal subconscious before piercing its blistered and yellow-tinged skin with pummelling power-chord rhythm. These formulas are replicated and multiplied, each iteration a paean to the dishevelled statue of bare boned rockitude. In short, when there’s metal indulgence to be had, Oxes can deliver it. They were probably the kids who grew up jumping excitedly around their bedrooms, tennis rackets in hand, bowing in the presence of their metaphorical stadium-rock crowds. But then they decided it didn’t have to be all about gruff attitude and multiple piercings. It could be about being goofy and offering people cookies too. And from these ashes of adolescence the Oxes live show came into being. In fact, it is with the sharing of confectionery that the communal Oxes experience begins. It’s a sure-fire method of endearment, that draws sympathetic enunciations from all gathered in the venue – there is after all, no route quicker than the sweet-tooth highway. Then the music begins, bracing rhythms left hanging in stasis, brooding, while the wireless guitars are led around the venue’s intimate corners, guitarists as explorers, stretching the triangular distances from which they are whole. And it doesn’t stop there. The musical merry-go-round continues unabated into Scat as performance art, Tom Jones interludes and a full-on rendition of Nirvana’s Drain You, with audience member enthusiastically in tow. As humorous as these individuals are, (and it is refreshing to be party to a show that tries to chip away at the nigh impenetrable shield of indie cool frontage so pervasive in live settings), you can’t help but feel that Oxes are easily sidetracked pranksters, trying frantically to liberate the math rock spirit that lurks within them; a spirit suffused and overawed by the imperious ghosts of comedic improvisation. But nay matter, Oxes can be rightly credited with delivering a loopy, metal-soaked, math-rock, off-the-wall cabaret. And tell me, how many bands can you say that about nowadays?