May 25, 2013

LO! and behold: Jonathan and Chester swim into THE OCEAN to join the CULT OF LUNA - A four-handed show review

Following a simple (yet complicated) turn of events, I managed to salvage what was left of the 29’th of April and bought myself a ticket to go see The Ocean, with hopes they would play something from the first half of their catalogue. Alas, to render on stage the work done by a sufficient number of people able to spawn across five bands seemed rather implausible, so they didn’t. But more on that later.

Responsible for the opening act were the lads from Lo!, roaring and churning their guitars and vocal chords, building up atmosphere and being rather straight forward with the crowd, all of  the fifteen individuals present in the front of the stage (well, it could have been a bigger number, but it seemed as such to me). From what I could comprehend, they play a mix of hardcore/sludge/whatever which in theory should work, yet it didn’t. Not on that stage, not with that sound anyway. Curiously enough, the last song they played (which they said it was from their newest album) turned the tides around and hit everything with the force of a crumbling brick wall: a monstrous post-metal rendition up there with the best of them, including a breakdown to die for, after which I was left to wonder how in the world their previous songs were so boring and the last one so damn cool. Anyway, I made a mental note to check on their latest release and bought myself a Lo! t-shirt (14 euros? A steal!).

Up next were The Ocean, and my fears of what I was to hear all turned true. If you’re aware of The Ocean’s music, you know what they sounded like at the beginning. If you don’t, go and listen to Precambrian and then get back to this review. Anyway, for the era following Precambrian (pun intended), The Ocean settled into a normal band formula and released Heliocentric, a ‘miss’ record, one that I couldn’t bring myself to listen for more than five times.  After that there was a small (yet still insufficient) redemption in the form of Anthropocentric:  it had its highs and lows, but it was listenable at least.

And now Pelagial, another oceanic concept album meant to sweep the rug from under our feet, yet as soon as I heard the wails of Loic’s clean vocals, I cringed. It felt like Heliocentric all over again and I couldn’t shake that feeling for any of the songs they’ve played. The only high point of their repertoire was the track ‘Roots & Locusts’ from Anthropocentric, but even that one was barely recognizable. A second mental note was made, to listen to Pelagial from the comfort of my home and see if anything feels different, thought I highly doubt it.

While Jonathan was battling with the boredom, the sad thoughts and the disappointment, I was somewhere around the big city, enjoying a delicious gourmet burger and then some cake with a special lady friend. I figured Lo!’s music didn’t exactly blow me over, so there would be no sense in trying to rush to the show. Plus, I was sure it was going to begin at 10PM or something, which apparently wasn’t the case. - Chester

Enter Chester. I mean, literally, if he were to be a little more fashionably late, he would have missed the whole show (j/k lol, he actually caught the last twenty minutes or so of The Ocean). We had a beer, stared like two lunatics at the merch stand and talked about how we were cooler than anyone else around (not necessarily in this order), then I asked him his opinion about what he’d already heard. I don’t think he had any time to answer it, though, because I was babbling away like a little girl on crack.

So yeah, while I was rushing to the venue, I casually sent a text message to Jonathan, asking him if Lo! had even begun playing. When he told me The Ocean were already well into their set, I freaked out for a bit, but luckily I was pretty close. Unfortunately, the sound was pretty awful. I could barely make out the vocals and everything sounded muddy and confusing. This wasn’t what I had expected.

Which leads me to the following rant: Cult of Luna stepped on the stage and suddenly all the god-awful sound went away in an instant, leaving a crystal clear guitar delivery, crisp vocals and drum beats to rip away your chest. I absolutely HATE IT when opening bands are treated with the shittiest sound ever, especially when playing a club venue. I mean, when Lo! and The Ocean were on stage, the vocals were muffled to the point of being completely incomprehensible, the rhythm guitar had absolutely no volume and the bass was too mixed up with the drums. And then up comes Cult of Luna and everything is bright and shiny.  With that, a big FUCK YOU! to whomever decides these things, may you rot away in the attic of a mansion while you’re silently waiting for the return of Edward Cullen!

With regards to Cult of Luna’s show, may it be duly noted that I haven’t had the pleasure of delving into their music before hand, so you could call this ‘my first time with the lunatics’ (hey, it doesn’t sound that bad now, does it?). All in all, I liked about 80% of the stuff that they played, a short summary of my feelings towards them taking the form of the shouted line of ‘Bine bă, fir-ați ai dracu’!’ (which would roughly translate to ‘Great job, motherfuckers!’).

I loved Cult of Luna’s set, especially I: The Weapon, which sounded fucking great. The high point of their performance, apart from the excellent sound, as Jonathan pointed out, were the stage lighting effects. The band was simply drowned in light and all you could see where seven black silhouettes set against the white/blue light of the stage. Having said that, the show was insanely long and I felt it was never going to finish. After being on the road all day, interminable post-metal songs weren’t exactly what the doctor would have prescribed. Another interesting thing I noticed was that there were some screens in the left hand side of the venue, which were showing Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. The mix of Cult of Luna’s atmospheric post-metal songs and Fellini’s lavish masterpiece was almost psychedelic. And, seeing how I was about to leave for Rome in the following two weeks, it all seemed eerily coincidental.

And that’s about it. Me and Chester parted ways (as he was so tired that at times I could have sworn he fell asleep during the show) and I rode back all of the seventy kilometers to my home crib, where I indulged in a later-than-midnight dinner from which I haven’t yet recuperated. See you at Riverside, minions!

It should also be noted this was the first time Jonathan and I ever met and I just wanna say that he’s a sweet bro and I’m glad to have gotten the chance to chat with him. Miss u boo!

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