Review by Andrew Bansal, photos by Matt Nielson
February 7th 2017, The Roxy, West Hollywood CA: In support of their fifth full-length album ‘Kodama’ which was released in 2016, French blackgaze/atmospheric metal band Alcest are currently in the midst of a North American headline tour, with support acts The Body and Creepers. The tour arrived in Los Angeles in front of a packed house at the Roxy last night, February 7th. Alcest have performed in the LA area as headliner as well as opener in the past on various album cycles and even though they presented different set lists each time, the live Alcest experience has invariably been awe-inspiring, and a large crowd of fans gathered here for yet another one.
Another thing guaranteed on an Alcest headline tour is an intriguing choice of opening acts, and the lineup for the current tour lives up to that reputation. Starting proceedings promptly at 8:30 were San Francisco shoegaze quintet Creepers, comprising two members of Deafheaven, Shiv Mehra on vocals/guitar and and Daniel Tracy on drums. If one were to conjure up the absolute perfect opening band for an Alcest-loving crowd, Creepers would be it. Their mellow atmospheric metal jams sat well with this audience and was indicated by the applause after every song and indeed at the end of the set. They played a 30-minute set of tunes mainly from their debut EP ‘The Lost Transmissions’, which was released in January on tape. The drumming was the standout feature of the musicianship exhibited on stage, but Mehra also did equally well as the frontman despite some feedback issues on his microphone, and the group as a whole sounded in perfect harmony with each other. For fans of bands like Alcest, finding an appreciation for Creepers is a no-brainer, and with rightly selected tours like this, this new band will go a long way.
More Creepers photos:
The stage was dimly lit during Creepers’ set, but it turned into complete blackout for the next band, The Body from Portland, Oregon. Theirs was a brutally contrasting set in comparison to that of Creepers, and the only source of light on stage through the entire performance was the projection screen in the backdrop upon which a series of visuals were being projected. So, we do not have any photographic evidence of The Body performing at the Roxy, but they certainly made their contribution as the odd one out on this lineup.
Although barely visible, they made their presence felt by the sheer volume emanating from the stage, as it shook the very foundations of the Roxy and forced many to scramble for a pair of earplugs. Aside from collaborating with other bands, The Body themselves tend to perform in various differing incarnations, and this time they were a three-piece orchestrating monstrous layers of synth/samples, and sans live drums. They can be accurately described as apocalyptic trance, because while their sonic landscapes and visual projections hold you in a trance, you’re also left imagining walking through post-apocalyptic lands. Only Alcest could dare to bring a band like The Body on a high-profile club tour such as this one, and The Body reciprocated in a manner they know best, with a performance of unparalleled bleakness.
At 10:10, Alcest arrived on stage amidst expectedly loud cheers, and aptly washed in blue lighting, proceeded on to deliver a typically captivating 90-minute set. They played three songs off of the latest album ‘Kodama’ but presented a sizable chunk of material from the previous three albums and put together a set list both old and new fans can be satisfied with. Musically, the set captured the essence and range of Alcest’s sonic repertoire, with mellow passages as well as heavier segments, the latter instigating mosh pits, even as new fans of Alcest’s softer music looked around in bewilderment. While some parts perhaps did warrant a mosh, it seemed as if, like it does at just about every metal show, some people attended the show with the sole purpose of starting and engaging in mosh pits. So excited to do this, they did it on many not-so-moshworthy songs, to the extent that it caught frontman Neige’s attention, and at one point he suggested that the following song was not really meant for such violent reactions from the crowd. But at the end of the day, whatever brings people to the show and makes them buy that ticket is good in our books.
Letting the music do all the talking with very few words to the audience in between, Alcest put forth another splendid performance that further strengthened their stature in the Los Angeles area as stellar musicians. It takes a certain level of genius to make mellow, relatively minimalistic music and not only create an atmosphere with it but to capture the attention and imagination of packed 500-capacity room. Alcest possesses it in plenty, which is why this, once again, is an unmissable tour for those in North America, and for those elsewhere, a band more than worth the listen.
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More Alcest photos:
Alcest set list:
02. Je suis d’ailleurs
03. Écailles de lune – Part 2
04. Autre temps
05. Oiseaux de proie
07. Les voyages de l’âme
08. Sur l’océan couleur de fer
09. Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles
Remaining Tour Dates:
02/08/2017 – San Diego CA @ Brick By Brick
02/09/2017 – Mesa AZ @ Club Red
02/10/2017 – Albuquerque NM @ Sister Bar
02/11/2017 – Dallas TX @ Curtain Club
02/12/2017 – Austin TX @ Dirty Dog
02/14/2017 – Nashville TN @ The End
02/15/2017 – Atlanta GA @ Aisle 5
02/16/2017 – Richmond VA @ Strange Matter
02/17/2017 – Baltimore MD @ Metro Gallery
02/18/2017 – Philadelphia PA @ Foundry
02/19/2017 – New York NY @ Irving Plaza