Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sunday Night Satanic Head Fuck

Sunn O)))
Live in Sydney, May 6th

I just came back from another mad weekend. At least this time I stayed within Sydney and it's immediate environs but I still ended up snatching only a few hours sleep on Friday and Saturday. This meant it was time to unenthusiastically shuffle along to another concert on the Sunday night, with a part of me wishing I was in bed but knowing that I would regret missing either of these bands.

The show was at the Factory Theatre in Enmore, which I'd never heard of before but turned out to be a very nice, spacious venue. The audience were generally an odd mix of metallers and hipsters, with black rimmed glasses and 'Trve Norwegian Black Metal' t-shirts combined comfortably in the same outfit.

You can't really tell from this picture but he's playing a double necked headless guitar, with one neck normal guitar and one neck bass guitar. Cool.

Boris were up first. I'm not that familiar with their stuff currently (although this will be remedied soon because they were fantastic) but I have been exposed to a fair amount of it via an old flatmate. These guys are a three piece from Japan and their music is pretty hard to categorise. The first half of their set comprised of a couple of long slow doom metal songs. Sparse vocals, moody melodies and long drawn out ambient build ups erupting into bursts of heaviness. After about half an hour of this stuff they suddenly launched into a set of high energy, upbeat numbers, which were punk in arrangement but retained a good dose of screechy electronic strangeness. In both modes they completely rocked my pants off. They're an absolutely brilliant live band in every respect (all three of them stunned me with their technical chops), with the drummer providing all the over the top stage antics expected of a Japanese band.

Cute petite Japanese girl played some seriously mean guitar. Awesome.

Also, it was nice to go to a metal gig with no moshing. Everyone was headbanging enthusiastically so there was a good vibe, but it was a pretty arty, geeky crowd and it was a welcome relief not to have to battle a thousand smelly meatheads just to hear some music.

Sunn O))) are named after a brand of amplifiers. Makes sense, they sure use a lot of them.

Next up were Sunn O))). These guys are an American drone metal band, and for this tour their line up featured the drummer from Boris on percussion and Attila Csihar (vocalist for Mayhem when they recorded De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas!). It was a very unique performance. Four of the musicians basically just stood there and let their guitars feed back for the whole hour, pausing only to occasionally twiddle knobs on their amps and effects decks, and very occasionally to play a note or two, while the percussionist rumbled away on a huge gong and Attila chanted ominous nonsense. To be honest while watching it I was pretty bored. It's a cool concept but there wasn't enough going on to keep the audience interested and in my worn out state I really just felt like going to sleep (it probably would have been better to have been seated for their set). Even just a couple of minutes into the set when only one member had appeared on stage and was just playing two bass notes over and over again I was tempted to turn around to my friend and sing 'Booooooooooooooringggggggggggg' along with the music. I didn't because I felt it would have been uncharitable that early on, but it did prove to be a fairly accurate prediction for the set ahead. There was one cool bit near the end when the drummer got to get up front and do a bit of screaming, posturing and crowd surfing, which injected some much needed dynamism into the act, but for the majority of the set it was much of the same.

Attila with the bass player. Like all good satanic monks they are dressed in spooky red robes.

On the other hand once you just let your brain switch off it became quite meditative. These guys like to play pretty fucking loud (although it wasn't as loud as I was expecting) and the constant drone of feedback is a pretty intense sort of sound (I could feel my trousers vibrating against my leg from the bass) so that the concert becomes as much a physical experience as a musical one. I have to admit my head is still ringing even now, and even though at the time it was a bit boring it's an experience that effects you on a subconscious level (I certainly had some interesting dreams about satanists dressed in red robes that night) and something about it has stayed with me in a way that Boris hasn't.

Time for a spot of ominous gong bashing.

Still for me (and from what I could tell for the rest of the audience too) Boris were the highlight. Those guys rocked out like motherfuckers and they're a contender for the best concert I've seen this year.

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