I'll just say it: Live, SunnO))) is better appreciated through marijuana. True, that's an assumption, one that I've not yet had the chance to test empirically. But based on last night's show it makes sense.
The standard-bearers for Metal's avant-garde, Sunn O))) had some difficulty recreating live what seems easily conveyed on wax. The teeth-rattling feedback was there. As were the deathless, bottom-heavy notes that warp and then reverberate at a thoroughly ridiculous level of volume. But the slow-thundering soundscapes that come off as progressive and conceptual through headphones disappear live. Standing stone sober amidst the smoke and sound waves, all that resonates is "loud." The show reduces to so much performance art, though that may actually be what the duo intends. During the third song (we use the word loosely) in their hour and change set, guest-vocalist and fellow death-robe fetishist, Attila, chanted and gesticulated for a seemingly interminable stretch as the guitar-pickers behind him played single notes very, very slowly. Yeah, the riffs were monolithic, but it wasn't enough to distract from the reality that I was standing bored in a fog-filled room listening to what amounted to big, but somewhat bloodless tones. However, there were some in attendance who based on aroma had the presence of mind to blaze beforehand. Their eyes closed by concentration or, perhaps, overindulgence, they were being transported to some other place. I couldn't help but feel envious.