by Black Bubblegum
Battlefields' Rusty, belching forth the unholiest of bellows
To quote my Aunt from Pennsylvania, I was in "a pickle". French Swans-y post-metallers Overmars were touring the US for the first time ever with another favorite of mine, the criminally underrated North Dakota (!) band Battlefields at Europa. Across town, LA's Night Horse were playing Union Pool with Tournament & Orphan. Which to go to? With impeccable timing and some well-placed text messages, I was able to make both on Sunday (8/16).
Starting out the night at Union Pool, I caught an opening set by Orphan, my first live experience with that band. As a fan of the well-written and brilliantly executed Aborted By Birth, I can't tell you how disappointed I was by their live show. Union Pool definitely felt like a practice session, complete with false starts, off timing, and an overall lack of interest in engaging the audience. I hope their live show improves, because the riffs and the songs are definitely there.
After Orphan, I made it over to Europa to catch the last few moments of Inswarm before Battlefields set-up to tear down. Battlefields' new LP on Translation Loss, Thresholds of Imbalance, hits that sweet spot between post-metal dirge and post-rock ambience, with a touches of jazz (!). It's a favorite of mine and is recommended for those who appreciate bands like Neurosis, Cult of Luna, and Samothrace (with which they once shared a member). Their live firepower is impressive as well, as I originally learned when I saw them headline a show with Amenra at Precious Metal close to two years ago. Their lineup has changed considerably since that encounter, but their performance/ability hasn't. If any of this sounds appealing, I highly recommend that you get to The Charleston on September 3rd (also with Overmars).
As Battlefields were waving sayonara, I made it back to Union Pool in record time to catch Night Horse who had just begun their set (I missed Tournament). Night Horse has all the makings of a really killer blues-based rock band, and are tons of fun to boot, but I could have done without the stage stylings of vocalist Sam James Velde who comes off like as a Chris Robinson knock off complete with the shoeless 70s dances. I could be sensitive to this schtick (The Black Crowes and in particular, Chris Robinson, bother me), but it came off as a distraction. That said, there was nothing distracting about the instrumental arrangements that surrounded Velde. Performing simple bluesy rock is walking a fine line, as bands in this style are a dime a dozen, but searing solos by Justin Maranga (also in Ancestors), and Greg Buensuceso, elevate this band from cool neighborhood local to a worthy touring band. While at the show, Saviours dropped in (fresh off their Dinosaur Jr appearance) and received an birthday wish from the band.
I skipped out of the last couple Night Horse songs in order to make it to Overmars in time. The French band's "new" LP (released in 2007, out now on Crucial Blast) is comprised of a single massive song, "Born Again", which dabbles in blackened ambience, but recalls faves like early Swans, Godflesh, and Neurosis. Overmars performed with the lights out (hence the poor photos), a coordinated video presentation (possibly a little cliche?), and were absolutely stunning. Highly, highly recommended along with their new LP. In addition, look for an upcoming split in the works with Starkweather. More on that soon.
Night Horse also played a show at Pianos with Graveyard (who played the Gramercy Theatre that same night) while they were in town. More of their dates HERE. More pics and full Battlefields/Overmars dates are below...
Orphan @ Union Pool...
Battlefields @ Europa...
Night Horse @ Union Pool...
Overmars @ Europa...
Overmars & Battlefields - 2009 Tour Dates
8/20/2009 Westcott Community Center - Syracuse, NY
8/21/2009 Roboto Project - Pittsburgh, PA
8/22/2009 Dayton Dirt Collective - Dayton, OH
8/23/2009 Mix Tapes - Grand Rapids, MI
8/24/2009 Cobra Lounge - Chicago, IL
8/25/2009 Vaudeville Mews - Des Moines, IA
8/26/2009 The Uptown Bar - Minneapolis, MN
8/27/2009 Mix Tapes - Moline, IL
8/28/2009 Fubar - St. Louis, MO
8/30/2009 Dragon's Den - New Orleans, LA
8/31/2009 The Atlantic - Gainesville, FL
9/01/2009 Square One - Greensboro, NC
9/02/2009 The Side Bar - Baltimore, MD
9/03/2009 The Charleston - Brooklyn, NY