words by Kim Kelly, photos by Greg Cristman
Though barely a month after their first show EVER in Bucharest, Alcest hit the US for a string of dates that included The Studio at Webster Hall on Thursday, 4/29. Presented by Haunting The Chapel and The Blackened Music series, the show, which featured black metal greats Woe and the post-punk/goth/industrial Have a Nice Life, was the second Alcest outing for Kim Kelly (she also went to the Philly show), who filed the review in this post. Read it below, with Alcest's setlist, more pictures and some videos too... -BBG
I hadn't originally planned on going to this show, since Alcest, Woe, and local openers Haethan had already done a more than admirable job of kicking ass in Philadelphia on Tuesday night. However, that old saying "you can never have too much of a good thing" reeled me in, and I found myself squeezed into the Chinatown with several dozen other lost souls headed towards the Studio at Webster Hall.
I got into the venue halfway through Have A Nice Life's set, and settled in to soak in the elegant mélange of influences that makes up their multihued sound. The seldom-seen
trio band wove fragments of shoegaze, post-punk, industrial, and the sheerest slivers of black metal into something that is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with on recording, but fell a bit flat in a live setting. At times awkward and stiff, at times wildly enthusiastic, Have A Nice Life were a more than logical accompaniment to Alcest's grayscale soundscapes, but should have logged a few more hours in the practice room and on shittier stages before accepting the task of opening for the French maestros.
Philadelphia's nastiest export, recent Candlelight signees Woe, took the stage, and promptly burned the motherfucker down (figuratively speaking, that is; I don't think Webster Hall would've taken too kindly to unprovoked arson, though it would have been pretty black metal of 'em). Furiously intense and positively crackling with energy, the blackened quartet ripped through a handful of favorites off 2008's A Spell for the Death of Man as well as some new material off their forthcoming Candlelight debut, delivering one of their best performances to date. A band to watch, and living proof that American black metal truly is out for blood.
Alcest mastermind Neige had delivered a deeply affecting performance at the Philadelphia stop on this tour, but by the time he and his trio of hired guns made it to Manhattan, the frail Frenchman's voice had given out was forced to sit out tonight's show. Mute and sleepy-eyed amidst the billowing fog and blue lights onstage, Neige concentrated on peeling off riff after gorgeous riff of fairtytale black metal and shoegazing post-rock while guitarist Zero took to the mic - and totally pulled it off. Backed by Gallic black metal royalty Fursy (Amesoeurs, Les Discrets) and Winterhalter (Amesoeurs, Peste Noire, Les Discrets) and shot through with an increased number of instrumental passages, Alcest's set included such delicate favorites as "Les Iris," and "Sourvenirs D'un Autre Monde" as well as several songs from their ethereal latest, Escailles De Lune, and was as dreamy, beautiful, dynamic, and expansive as any fan of the band could hope for. Sore throats and stray cats be damned - this shit was downright magical. One can only hope that the gentle souls of Alcest will slip back to our shores again soon.
Have a Nice Life...
Woe @ The Studio at Webster Hall
Alcest @ The Studio at Webster Hall
Alcest Set List (via)
"Ecailles De Lune (Part I)"
"Sur L'OcÇan Couleur De Fer"
"Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde"
"Percées De Lumière"