Chroma is a breath of fresh air in today’s music scene. Whether the band stands formal and polished in kitsch suits and ties on stage at World Cafe Live, or lounging in their worn-in T-shirts and jeans in a more intimate setting at the University City Mediterranean restaurant Mokas, the band appeals to its audience with a something-for-everyone musical repertoire.
The Tampa band takes its name from “The Phantom Tollbooth,” a fantastical children’s novel by Norton Justor. “Chroma the Great” is just one of the book’s whimsical characters – the conductor of a 1000-piece orchestra which plays in color instead of sound. And as the orchestra in the book delights its audience with every color of the spectrum, so does Chroma the band with its colorful musical offering.
What’s most refreshing about the band is that they don’t necessarily play for their audience, but rather because the members share a mutual love of music. Lost deep in a song on stage, members turn slightly toward one another and connect with the music they share. Perhaps this is what encouraged the judges of “Cream: The Best of Philly Rising – Battle of the Bands” competition to name Chroma its top musical act on Jan. 26.
All the members of Chroma, (including vocalist and keyboard player Loren Gildar, drummer Alex Hayward and bassist Adam Mantovani) have either majored or minored in music during their college career except for the lead guitarist Ariel Naor, who is self-taught.
Their hard work shows. Masters of their instruments, they seem more like naturally-born limbs than pieces of plastic and wood. The average Moka performance covers a variety of musical tastes, from one of their self-composed funk pieces to a bluesy number to even a Jimmy Buffet track.
This natural ability to flawlessly jump styles comes from the experience of playing together for a very long time – while the band has only been formally established for around four years, the members have played music together on and off since junior high.
It’s this homegrown tightness that just may be its only flaw. While lead vocalist Gildar is deemed the unofficial representative of the band, the remaining three members seem a bit shy and removed and don’t socialize much beyond their circle of friends at shows. Gildar also seems to speak to the audience most during their sets, forcing the rest of the group to bear anonymity.
Yet, the band is determined to make their musical presence known to the world, and it is their closeness, whether on stage or otherwise, that has brought them this far and will help set them apart from the rest.