By Andrew Bansal
(Photos by Matt Nielson)
February 18th 2017, The Echo, Los Angeles CA: Seattle, Washington is a bottomless reservoir of musical talent, and while Los Angeles gets visited by several Seattle-based touring bands on a regular basis, it is not often that we get two such bands coming through town on tour together. Yesterday, He Whose Ox is Gored and Dust Moth may not have had top billing at The Echo, being slotted as the early show on a Saturday evening, but for LA’s underground music lovers, they were top priority. Bringing their West Coast mini-tour to us, the two bands, along with local opener QunQ, proceeded onto mesmerize the audience in their own distinct ways, and to prove why they cannot be taken for granted, and why each and every LA appearance of theirs is absolutely unmissable.
Doors opened at 5:30, and at 6:10, Los Angeles-based three-piece band QunQ opened the show with their brand of experimental rock, creating maximum output from their relatively minimal setup. The set comprised heavy jams laden with math rock, noise and punk elements, instrumental passages dominating the music but also punctuated by clean singing, delivered with much delicate precision by guitarist/vocalist Ben Heywood. The ambiance at The Echo is clearly tailor-made for a band like QunQ, and they thrived fully on a fog-engulfed stage. The quality of the song arrangements is the single biggest factor in the success or failure of a band meshing varying styles together, and in case of QunQ, a band only 5 years old thus far, this quality speaks for itself. This is a band that sits just as well on lineups with stoner/doom/atmospheric rock groups as with bands such as The Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge and the like. This QunQ set made for an apt start to the high-calibre musical exhibition that was to follow.
Shortly after, promptly at 7 o’ clock, Dust Moth took the stage to present their highly dynamic interpretation of heavy music, with crushing riffs transitioning into melodic patterns, and vocalist/keyboardist Irene Barber fronting it all beautifully with the singing voice and on keys. Both variants of the band’s sound had an equally compelling impact on the audience, with Barber’s singing being the common thread to give it a sense of identity and cohesiveness. The band kept a low-key stage presence and let the music do the talking. Just like QunQ, Dust Moth also started out in 2012 and following a split release with Aeges and an EP, they released their debut full-length ‘Scale’ in 2016. They are a young band but not a group of newbies, and come with experience from past projects. They converted from their early-days six-piece setup to a simpler four-piece present-day incarnation, which is perhaps a good thing, as their four members succeeded in expressing their musicality to the fullest on this stage, and are almost certain to put on many more spellbinding performances in the LA area in the years to come.
Dust Moth set list:
01. Shelf Life
04. Everything Anew
07. Space Legs
Lastly at 8 o’ clock, headline act He Whose Ox is Gored began their set, which in reality lasted all of 40 minutes but seemed even shorter. As the stage was engulfed by fog, the minds of the audience were clouded by the powerful, haunting, dreamy sonic patterns emanating from the quartet performing on it. In comparison to past LA area appearances both as opening act and headliner, the band set up differently this time, with vocalist/keyboardist Lisa Mungo positioned in the center of the stage as opposed to the corner as in previous gigs, which instantly made more sense as it made for a more balanced and symmetrical stage setup, both visually and sonically. Their style of progressive/experimental doom is outstanding in its composition, as proven on their debut LP ‘The Camel, The Lion, The Child’ (2015) and other EP releases, but the beauty is in its delivery, and achieving the perfect balance between clarity and amplification, the band has mastered the art of dialing in their live sound. Lisa Mungo and her band mates Brian McClelland (guitar), Mike Sparks (bass) and John O’Connell (drums) always seem to reserve their best for LA, but even by their sky-high standards, this was their best performance in this town till date.
Besides the unmatchable precision of every single note they played, what made it their best LA show was them being completely in the zone, clearly loving every moment of their time in the spotlight, and the sheer spontaneity that ensued from it. Touring on this level is difficult and not for everyone, and these musicians endure everything, not for any great financial gains, but to simply get a chance to perform, and for them, that is the greatest reward. He Whose Ox is Gored embodies this ethos more than anyone, which is why their shows are so captivating. Here, they were possessed by the power of their own music, and the end of the show was very much a release, as Lisa Mungo lifted one of her keyboards and flung it from the stage into the crowd, not only demolishing the instrument in the process but also snapping the audience out of the trance she and her band held them in.
He Whose Ox is Gored continue to scale new heights of musical brilliance, and The Echo is fortunate to have played host to them along their journey to greatness.
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More He Whose Ox is Gored photos:
He Whose Ox is Gored set list:
02. Charming the Snake
04. Void Assault
05. Buried Twice
09. Egg (new song)
Remaining Tour Dates:
02/19/2017 – Sacramento, CA @ The Colony