Alcest – Aisle 5, Atlanta 15/02/17

Blackgaze pioneers Alcest are touring the US in support of their highly successful 2016 release Kodama alongside experimental sludgers The Body and San Francisco’s Creepers. The show went down in Atlanta’s Aisle 5 and I was there to catch all the action. (NOTE: Dead Register were on the bill as well but I missed their early performance).

Creepers, featuring Dan Tracy and Shiv Mehra of Deafheaven, produced a colorful blend of shoegaze accompanied by a healthy dose of psychedelic rock that is aesthetically pleasing. The dynamic stage lighting added a visual element to the set and helped set the mood for the 35-minute performance that was sonically top-notch. One gripe I have with shoegaze in general — and Creepers in this case — is that the performances tend to be rather static because, well, it’s called shoegaze and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. But, seriously, it wouldn’t hurt to have a little more energy on stage at times.

Next, The Body stepped on stage for an experimental set filled with noise, beats, and muffled screams from Chip King sung over a digital backdrop projecting avant-garde scenes of love, lust, and loss. The Body have been around for a long time and definitely deserve respect for having the courage to experiment they way they do. And I get it; noise is cool, thought-provoking, and edgy, but last night’s performance left a lot to be desired both in terms of content and execution, perhaps due to the fact that they are sonically so different from all the other bands on the bill. I would have enjoyed The Body’s set a lot more with a different lineup of bands but alas, such is the nature of touring.

Alcest’s latest album Kodama has been hugely successful and the fact that the band can draw a midweek crowd stateside speaks volumes about their popularity outside of Europe. I was especially excited to see them perform on a relatively small stage in an intimate environment that set them only a few inches away from the crowd and they did not disappoint. The band overcame a few minor technical issues early on and went on to put on an energetic show filled with all the atmospheric highs and lows that come packaged in their music. There was plenty of dancing, fist-pumping, head-banging, and sing-alongs during the crowd-favorites. For me, the live renditions of the title track from the latest album Kodama and the deathrock-inspired Oiseaux de Proie were the highlights of the night.

I’m usually not a fan of genre-spanning music but Alcest have completely mastered the art of fusing black metal with post-rock and are in a league of their own. They are unashamedly intellectual and comfortable in their collective skin (no corpse-paint and ridiculous theatrics here). Check out their new release Kodama through Prophecy Productions and prepare to be blown away.

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