CULT OF LUNA/MINSK/SUB ROSA Vancouver 9/05/15
Text and Photos: Abi Coulson
I was once told that the words “awesome” and amazing” are vastly overused in today’s society, and I too am guilty of contributing to this overuse. However, I can truly say that this show at Vancouver’s Rickshaw on the infamous East Hastings St was, in the true sense of each word, both awesome and amazing.
Somewhat unfortunately, the venue was not quite as crowded as might be expected due to such a great line up, but this was no surprise due to a painful clash with the Melvins, who happened to be playing across town on the same night. Fortunately, anyone perhaps saddened by missing that show was rewarded with a lineup of epic proportions that left all who attended blown away.
The evening featured a fantastic array of doom, sludge, post/progressive rock and metal. Up first were Astrakhan, the first of the three local bands. They played an energetic set of psychedelic metal and were a great start to the night. They were followed by If We Are Machines who had a more indie rock vibe. Bushwhacker were the last of the locals, and brought the heaviness back with a thunderous set
As the venue started to fill, there was a sense of great anticipation for Salt Lake City’s 5-piece Sub Rosa. They did not disappoint, and delivered a stunningly emotional 30 minute set portrayed in the most beautifully soul-destroying way. During the moments of soothing melody, a silence fell over the crowd and the delicate vocals from Sarah Pendleton and Kim Pack sent shivers down my spine. This spell was soon broken with crashing drums, crushing riffs and wild violin. An absolutely mesmerizing performance from each member…they finished (what felt like far too soon) with “The Usher,” and much of the audience sang along to the most memorable line, “All of my life I have been waiting for you…”
During the set, whilst trying to concentrate on shooting, I was fighting back the tears and afterwards found out that band members and audience alike find themselves doing the same thing due to the sheer brutality and beauty. It is for this reason that, for me, Sub Rosa stole the show.
Minsk of Chicago returned from a 4-year hiatus with a fourth album, The Crash And The Draw, and delivered a hypnotic and monstrous set which transitioned between spacey psychedelic metal to sludgy, almost viking-tinged (without the cheesy folk!) doom. With abstract keyboard effects (from Timothy Mead, who had a particularly epic stage presence with his wild gestures) layered perfectly over majestic vocals (from Mead and Christopher Bennet), pounding tribal yet precise and technical drumming and crushing guitars, to moments of subtle clarity and melody that felt like the eye of a storm. After a pummelling of approximately 40 mins, there were many deaf but happy ears.
I was rather excited to see Swedish post-metallers Cult of Luna for what I think is my fifth time (as I originally hail from England, where we are blessed by the metal gods with fantastic festivals), so I knew what to expect, but this was my first time in the pit in front of one of my favorite bands. It was also refreshing to be amongst a crowd who, for the most part, were seeing them for the first time. I was excited to witness the reaction and it certainly was not one of disappointment.
As a photographer, the relentless fog, combined with laser lights, made for some tricky shooting (in fact, this was much the same for all the bands!). However, when I took time to step back and let it all soak in, it made for a perfectly captivating, doomy atmosphere as each member would appear like a transient being, in and out of the dense smoke when highlighted by the flashing lights.
Being a seven piece outfit, they blended and built up textured layers of drumming, guitar, vocals and keyboard effects beautifully. Most tracks were from their latest album, Vertikal (2014), but they also threw in “Ghost Trail” from Eternal kingdom (2008) and “Dark City-Dead Man” from Somwhere Along The Highway (2006). If I’m honest, I was slightly let down it was not more of a balance between new and old; it however still made for an incredible and hypnotic (as always) set.
Somewhat aptly, CoL finished with “In Awe Of,” and did indeed leave the audience stunned in awe and admiration, and screaming for more.
IF WE ARE MACHINES
CULT OF LUNA