Guitars have always been cool. The shape is as sexy as an hourglass figure and the sound has always felt dangerous.
But in the digital age, their futurism took second place to the synthesizer, an instrument that can literally sound like anything, so long as the knobs are turned right.
But Delicate Steve's performance at Visual Arts Collective June 29 was a reminder of why the guitar remains king.
The New Jersey band dropped instrumental shred-pop mastery by the score, including material from its debut album, Wondervisions, and its new release, Positive Force.
Despite the lack of lyrics, the band's songs rocked guitar leads with melodies so recognizable and catchy, Delicate Steve might well turn out to be The Ventures of the indie-rock era, if it puts out around a thousand more albums anyhow.
But as much as the melodies stood out, so did the tone. Though the beats were lagging and percussion heavy, many reminiscent of calypso, the guitars were bold and brassy, jacked up two octaves through a whammy pedal so every note screamed like it was straight from an '80s metal solo. Delicate Steve mixed in a few keyboards, especially on its signature track Wondervisions, a keyboard melody you may never excise from your head, but it put the guitars back in the spotlight, showing any doubters in the audience that there is absolutely no substitute.
The band may not carry itself with the 10-pound testicle swagger of the guitar hero, but it filled the audience with an urge to shred every bit as powerful as the finest of Iron Maiden or Steve Vai solos.