Review by Andrew Bansal, Alcest & Emma Ruth Rundle live photos by Karina Diane & videos by Matt Nielson
October 7th 2015, The Regent, Los Angeles CA: French atmospheric rock/post-metal group Alcest are currently on a North American headline tour, performing material from their latest full-length release ‘Shelter’ as well as bringing forth a slab of their 15-year musical journey through varying styles. In addition, they are presenting Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle as the touring support act. The tour arrived at the Regent in downtown LA for a gig last Wednesday October 7th 2015. Over the years, Alcest have polarized fans with some of their stylistic shifts but there is still a sizable legion of followers that appreciate all facets of Alcest’s musicianship, and the band’s LA fans turned up in good numbers for what turned out to be a spellbinding evening.
Doors opened at 8, and at 8:45, Los Angeles-based ambient/doom quartet Black Mare took the stage as the local opening act. Featuring Sera Timms and J. Bennett from Ides Of Gemini, Bryan Tulao from Black Math Horseman and Andrew Clinco from Marriages, Black Mare is an underground supergroup that derives from the elements of its members’ main musical projects but relies more on its ambient tendencies. With singer Sera Timms engulfed in fog for the most part, Black Mare’s dark, dreamy, atmosphere-inducing sound resonated around the Regent to serve as an ideal precursor for the touring acts to follow.
Shortly after, Emma Ruth Rundle, clad in an elegant black dress, took the stage and through a simple and minimal setup of a microphone, guitar and pedalboard, she successfully held the entire room captive with a tender singing voice and melancholic guitar play. While she tuned her guitar between songs, she filled silences with ambient loops and samples. ‘Shadows Of My Name’ off of her 2014 full-length Sargent House Records release ‘Some Heavy Ocean’ is one of the simplest yet most captivating musical compositions I have come across in recent years, and it was also the highlight of this set as Emma Ruth Rundle strummed on the guitar with added intensity and vocally broke out of the tenderness to hit soaring highs. Another notable segment of her set was when she was joined by Alcest frontman Neige, as he walked onto the stage with no prior announcement or introduction by her, and garnered a huge cheer from a pleasantly surprised audience as a result.
Emma Ruth Rundle’s music is not hard rock or heavy metal, and many, including the artist, might wonder why she is being written about on this site, but there is no denying that her dark, melancholic musical expression is akin to that of some variants of heavy metal, and is more engaging and powerful than a lot of things that do get categorized as metal. Fans of latter-years Alcest, and the post/atmospheric/ambient/progressive rock realm in general, would find Emma Ruth Rundle’s artistry worthwhile, and ticket holders of the remaining shows on this tour are strongly encouraged to turn up early enough to watch her set.
Video footage of Emma Ruth Rundle performing with Neige of Alcest at this show:
At 10:45, Alcest appeared on stage and began their mission to hypnotize the audience with tunes new and old, ranging from ambient rock to segments boasting of heavy doom-like riffs and fast black metal-style picking. The Regent’s reverb-heavy acoustics and supreme lighting setup enhanced and perfectly complemented this Alcest performance, and in comparison to their past Los Angeles appearances as a support act at the Troubadour (with Enslaved, October 14th 2013) and El Rey Theatre (with Anathema, October 3rd 2013), this was a far better-sounding Alcest set that did full justice to the mastery they’ve grown to develop in a musical style they’ve made their own over the past decade.
Some frontmen, specially in prog bands, really kill the vibe of their show by excessively talking to the audience between songs, but Alcest frontman Neige thankfully keeps it to a minimum, which adds further to the mystique and power of the live Alcest experience. They focused on performing their music to perfection, and did so with great success at this particular gig. Alcest is certainly far richer as a musical entity because of the variations they have incorporated in their sound from one album to the next, and at the risk of losing brownie points among the true black metal followers, it has to be said that Alcest took a major step in the right direction when they decided to abandon their straightforward black metal approach within a year of starting in that style in the year 2000.
I never got a chance to see Pink Floyd, but this Alcest performance was spellbinding to the extent that it’s perhaps the closest anyone has ever come to attaining Floyd-like levels with their live show. This was one for the ages, and attendees at the Regent will remember it for a long time.
Alcest video footage from this show:
02. Summer’s Glory
03. Écailles de lune – Part 1
04. Les Iris
05. Souvenirs d’un autre monde
06. L’eveil des muses
07. Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles
08. Sur l’océan couleur de fer
09. Percées de lumière
10. Autre temps
For more detailed video coverage of the show, check out Arturo Gallegos’ YouTube channel.
Alcest / Emma Ruth Rundle remaining tour dates:
10/08 – Mesa, AZ @ Club Red
10/09 – Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
10/10 – Dallas, TX @ Sons Of Hermann Hall
10/11 – Austin, TX @ The Sidewinder
10/13 – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
10/14 – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum
10/15 – Raleigh, NC @ King’s Baracde
10/16 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
10/17 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s