Leading (and founding) member of Alcest, “Neige” (or “Snow”).
Steam and smoke rose above the audience at Will’s Pub Thursday night, March 22 like incarnating plumes. At the Alcest-headling show, bodies upon bodies of hipster metalheads, metal-loving hipsters, and grimy metalheads alike piled into the small venue. No one could hide their own drench of sweat, and at a certain point, no one seemed to care. Deafheaven vocalist George Clarke, whom we had the pleasure to speak with last week (read the conversation here), embraced it like an old friend as sweat beaded and saliva dragged from the mic.
Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to see the first band, Fire in the Cave, but based on their forthcoming EP it must have been a
heartwarming searing and visceral performance.
Legions vocalist/guitarist Daniel Morris
Legions took over the stage simply and unassumingly. The band has been on a musical hiatus for a while now, so this show was something of a comeback for them. And rather than putting on the theatrics with corpse paint, inverted crosses and goat heads (like some of their past shows), Legions decided to let their music speak for itself. In plain clothing they took the stage with ferocity, passion and headbanging that no black metal theatrics could ever replace. In unison, they began with their backs to the audience as they powered through a doom-metal-esque intro. The power of the rumbling bass and cracking of drummer Ashiq Ricker’s sticks with every beat was a vibrant beginning, as it quickly led into a hyper tempo of tremolo picking and continual blast beats. It was a macho man’s metal, to be sure, but that didn’t keep the female crowd from joining the guys at the front with just as much fist pumping, hair twirling, and devil’s horns.
Bassist/vocalist Chris Lewis let his long hair fall across his face, and the only thing the crowd could see was his mouth crying out, “You are the darkness that consumes the universe / You are the light that illuminates our souls,” on the song “Celestial Lineage” from their Destroyer EP back in 2010. From stage left, guitarist/vocalist Ghimel Alvarado led the band into some shredding leads, followed quickly by the crowd throwing their metal claws in the air. And the emotion and ecstatic fury displayed by vocalist/guitarist Daniel Morris could be felt like a wave washing over the Will’s Pub crowd as he took a power stance and thrashed to a climactic ending on the last song.
Deafheaven vocalist George Clarke
The night continued with the San Francisco metal collective, Deafheaven. Playing mostly from the Roads to Judah album, the band managed to summon a strong reaction in the crowd that night. Clarke was the driving force behind this reaction, as his theatrical expressions were akin to the kind of intensity one displays at fisticuffs. His stance was often crouched, as if he was ready to pounce on the audience and his leer made him look possessed. Guitarist Kerry McCoy—and fellow original member alongside Clarke—-writhed around with the rest of the band during some of the speedy moments but swayed along during the more droning post-rock lulls.
It took a minute for the crowd to get in the mood, but eventually everyone was headbanging and giving their best grim face at the front of the stage, and a few people had a good time screaming along with Clarke to, “Don’t raise a toast to your slaving bloodline now!”
Alcest, the headlining band, played a subdued set compared to the others. Leading member Neige (“Snow”) wore peacock feathers around his neck—much like the giant peacock on the cover of his latest album, Les Voyages de l’Ame. There wasn’t quite as much thrashing or headbanging during their set; instead, Neige’s voice soared above the music in a way that people probably only thought was possible on recording. His soft vocals had a knack for carrying such power despite their intimate tendencies.
In a night that was filled with veins popping out of singers’ heads from the tension and strain of crying out, and a dark atmosphere that choked the small room, Alcest’s approach was a beautiful touch. Even though raw black metal roots reared its head at certain moments, the tone was gentler overall. Leaning more toward the post-rock side of his post-rock-meets-metal formula, Neige crafted a strange set where he straddled the fence of soft beauty and harsh reality. The sentimentality of tracks such as “Beings of Light” carried an epic feel that was victorious, crooning and climactic as it closed out the evening and a rush of chills permeated through the audience.
Take a look at a gallery of the show below in the following order: Alcest, Deafheaven, and Legions . . . .
Tue Mar 27