12 Dec 2018

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Gig Review: Alcest @ Whammy Bar, Auckland 24/04/2017

25 Apr 2017 // A review by Alex Moulton

Alcest is a very recent discovery for me. Hailing all the way from Bagnols-sur-Cèzein France, I discovered their Australia/New Zealand tour by chance. Experimental rock duo Into Orbit and Instrumental post-rock group Hiboux were both announced as opening bands for the Wellington leg of the tour, and having reviewed both bands releases in the past (see Unearthing and Command the Earth to Swallow Me Up) I took a liking to the style of instrumental based post-rock, and a link to the concert popped up on my social media news feed. Looking at the opening bands, I assumed I would enjoy the headliner, and a search through music videos proved my assumption to be true.

The Auckland leg of the tour took place on K Road’s underground Whammy Bar, which due to some unknown issues ended up opening doors late. This had a knock-on effect of cutting down the opening bands set lengths, to the point where by the time everyone who had been waiting outside had been granted access to the venue, the opening band The Dark Third was finishing up their second to last track of the set.

Next up on stage were the progressive rock trio, Mothra. Their instrumental style is a beautiful collage of heavy and light in a manner that rivals the instrumental workmanship of Tool, or perhaps even exceeds it as the set requires no vocals at all, and does not suffer for the lack of them. One of the big reasons that they impress live is their drummer, James Armstrong, who unlike the bands of the mainstream world, actually uses the drum kit as an instrument and not just as a glorified metronome. Hugh Allan and Reuben Saffer on guitar and bass respectively work together building layer upon layer of riffs to uncommon time signatures that have the crowd headbanging.

Finally, Alcest take to the stage to the backing track of Onyx, before heading straight into title track from their latest album Kodama. Drums, guitar, and bass are taken up by Winterhalter, Zero, and Indria Saray respectively, all dressed in black on the left side of the stage, while lead vocalist and guitarist Neige takes position on the right, dressed in white. Four tracks into the set, Neige finally says a few words between tracks, to greet the audience and thank them for coming, before getting back into the set. A group of few words, you could see they were enjoying the cheers and applause that they were getting from the packed crowd in tiny New Zealand (ignoring the heckling from drunk Vince in the back).

Nearly half of the setlist came from the most recent release Kodama, though Écailles de Lune also took up a significant portion of the show. Their specific brand of atmospheric black metal is both heavy, and uplifting, with stunning harmonies on vocals between Neige and Zero on tracks such as Autre Temps from the 2012 album Les Voyages de L'Âme, and title track from 2007 album Souvenirs d'un autre monde. This contrasts the abrasive screaming vocals of Eclosionand Là où Naissent les Couleurs Nouvelles, and yet the songs fit together so well. With a more basic time signature to the music, heavy djents and more predictable rhythms, the audience were headbanging in unison throughout the show, rapidly heating up the venue, as they jostled to get closer to the stage. 

Alcest took full command of the crowd, whether allowing them time to rest, or commanding them to rage and mosh, all by striking a chord on their instruments. A brilliant demonstration, that was well received by all.


Other Reviews By Alex Moulton

Mako Road - EP Review: Local Safari
10 Dec 2018 // by Alex Moulton
Local Safari is the latest release from Christchurch Indie group Mako Road The four-piece provide a very laid-back and relaxed (albeit short) EP as we enter the prime summer road tripping season.The EP begins with its titular track Local Safari, with some pleasant keys and a generally unhurried pace, controlled by a simple hi hat and snare drum combo.
Kerretta - Single Review: Chroma Queens
10 Dec 2018 // by Alex Moulton
Chroma Queens is the first single from upcoming LP release Exiscens (due for release on December 14), which is the first release from Auckland experimental rock act Kerretta for over four years. The band are comprised of bass player William Waters; drummer H.
Gig Review: Ghost Who Walks @ Anthology Lounge, Auckland - 30/11/2018
06 Dec 2018 // by Alex Moulton
Cheers and squeals are let out around Auckland’s Anthology Lounge as The Rubics take to the stage. The six-piece group have been working on making a name for themselves as the groove-makers of the Auckland scene, and from the sound of the audience, they know exactly what they are in for.
Gig Review: 2Cellos @The Civic, Auckland - 3/12/2018
04 Dec 2018 // by Alex Moulton
People were abuzz as they filed into The Civic to get to their seats. Many eyes were enjoying the venue itself as one of Auckland’s last remaining atmospheric theatres, with its soft-top design that floats above the auditorium, with stars and clouds that recreate the Southern Hemisphere sky-scape.
Lisa Crawley - Single/Video Review: Baby It's Fine
30 Nov 2018 // by Alex Moulton
Lisa Crawley’s latest single Baby It’s Fine is a delightfully unhurried and soulful pop track. Starting with a slow strum of the guitar and an almost acoustic vibe to the bass, there is a slow melancholic edge to the song.
Night Bus - Single Review: Korean Restaurant
28 Nov 2018 // by Alex Moulton
Self-described as a lo-fi electronic bedroom pop from elusive Wellington figure, night bus is definitely an obscure act. With a Facebook page created less than a fortnight ago, only 5 followers to their name, and a moniker that is otherwise impossible to search for due to common use, any further information about the artist is not forthcoming.
Baitercell - EP Review: Toka
23 Nov 2018 // by Alex Moulton
Toka is the latest release from Baitercell; an EP comprised of three Drum n Bass tracks with 100% Te Reo Maori lyrics. The tracks Te Wai Te Ora (The Water, The Life), Te Pukumeke (The Final Strike) and Hine Ruru (A goddess in the form of a native owl of Aotearoa), are inspired by Papatuanuku, Tangaroa, Ranginui (the respective Maori gods of earth, water and sky) and the connection we need to have with our earth.
Gig Review: ZM's Friday Night Jams @ Western Springs, Auckland - 18/11/2018
19 Nov 2018 // by Alex Moulton
Ten minutes before gates open and the entrance way to Western Springs is packed to the brim with excited fans wearing cardboard Burger King Crowns in the hopes of receiving a free upgrade to the BK Stage. With some scattered cloud, the day was humid, but ultimately much more manageable, providing some respite from the intense sun.
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