photos by Damien Neva, words by Black Bubblegum
Wednesday (10/15) was my first experience with sunn o))) in their original incarnation, and in all honesty, I expected to enjoy it alot less than I did. The band is known to travel with an armada of heavy music overlords (including Joe Preston, Attila Csihar, Julian Cope, Justin Broadrick, Malefic, among many others) and so for me, the announcement of the Shoshin GrimmRobe Tour was a combination of disappointment and piqued interest. Would the band be able to engage the crowd in much the same manner without Moogs, maniacal screams, or odd texture? The answer is yes.
Thou started the evening off with a bang, exceeding my expectations even though I have been a staunch supporter of both their recent To Carry A Stone 7" and their recent Peasant LP. Vocalist Bryan Funck's wide-eyed psychopath paced across the stage, microphone cord wound tightly around his neck. The band was water tight with a much larger sound than their records would have you believe. Look for them next time they come through NYC.
Next up was experimentalist Tony Conrad, who hit the stage with a (VERY) modified violin, pedals galore and lots of droning looped violin chords. Very interesting stuff, and a stark contrast to the venomous antagonism of Thou.
The core lineup of sunn o))), Stephen O'Malley & Greg Anderson, hit the amp-crowded stage around 11:30, clad in their usual monk-robes. In between gulps of red wine, the duo dropped thunderiff after thunderiff (© BrooklynVegan -JOKING-) to the vibrating (with excitement and volume) crowd. There was little respite from their onslaught, save for a few moments when their raised their axes to the sky in praise of the heaviness. As usual, the band played through a dense thicket of fog (a sunn o))) trademark), and was aided by well executed lighting that, on a few occasions, made me throw up the patented black metal invisible orange in salute.
Much has been said about sunn o))) and their commitment to volume (their credo is "maximum volume yields maximum results"), and the band obliged by shaking the Knitting Factory from start to finish. Call me clairvoyant, but I am pretty sure I know the question a lot of you readers have.... "but were they louder than My Bloody Valentine"? The answer to that is no and maybe. No, I say because the Knitting Factory wasn't packing the PA firepower that Kutscher's [or Roseland] did. Maybe, because it is impossible to compare the low-end rumble of sunn o))) to the high-frequency screech My Bloody Valentine. Apples & oranges, as they say.
All in all, fantastic. Hail the darkness! I just wish they would have played on fucking Halloween.
More pictures below...