Russian Circles Plays Awesome Music, And That's About All There Is To It, Saturday At Neumos

Tom Murphy
This is a pic from one of their Denver shows, but you get the idea
Russian Circles, Crypts, Deafheaven

Saturday Nov. 26th


For the crowd at Neumos, this show was a tough one: a progressive instrumental metal outfit; an experimental, wacked-out electronic act; and a black metal screamfest comprised the bill. Do you go heavy and slam dance? or rave out? or kind of morph throughout the night? It was a tough call, and most people decided not to make that decision, choosing to stand back and quietly appreciate instead, which is totally fine; there was some pretty cool stuff to take in. No need to get carried away.

San Fran screamers Deafheaven were probably the most crowd-engaging, and there were a few fans jumping around in the front row, yelling the lyrics (inaudible screams as it were) along with frontman George LeSage. The band was like 1000% full speed ahead on most songs, in that most every track jumped right into 100mph-mode, which is pretty opposite of Russian Circles' slow burners and half-explosions that fake you out and keep you on your toes. Deafheaven was alright, and to be fair, I missed a couple of songs, but I could have gone for a little more variety in my evening's cup of black metal.

Local electro-freaks Crypts are the wildest act on any bill, as you may have gleened from the Nirvana tribute show they were ejected from in September. If you can get past the half-painted, partially naked Marilyn Manson shock-treatment that is their live set, their hard-edged industrial is really cool stuff. Their performance is meant to stir all kinds of weird emotions in audience members, and maybe even make you ponder the very definition of performance. I haven't quite gotten past the spectacle yet; the boundary-challenging, LOOK AT ME nature of it all, but I'm curious to see where they take it in the future, 'cause I dig their tunes.

Lastly, Russian Circles played as well as I had hoped. Their shoegaze prog doesn't need to be teased with a whole lot of showiness to impress; the fact that they can recreate those tricky progressions and mood changes live is enough for me--it's almost more impressive that they can keep their cool while piling on those monstrous layers until they finally fall over the edge. Their tempos are generally sleepy with spurts of aggression, the unpredictability of which makes an all-out mosh pit difficult to sustain. A few pushes in the right places and we got one going for a few minutes, but the quieter moments kind of took the wind out of our sails, and after a time, I too decided to simply stand back and appreciate the wondrous swirl of sound.

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