Thursday, April 29, 2010

Show review: Alcest @ Cafe Nine, New Haven CT

Whenever black metal elitist pricks get angry, it makes me smile. Alcest has been doing a good job of that since 2007, with the release of the shoegazey, ambient slice of heaven "Souvenirs d'un autre monde". It's not troo or kvlt, and that's pretty much what I look for when I'm listening to this stuff.

This project is really a one-man band; Neige (also of Peste Noire and Amesoeurs) writes and records all the instruments and vocals himself. For this, Alcest's first American tour, Neige hired some of the guys from his other bands
to fill out the lineup.

What I was most interested to see is how (or if) the band could match the atmosphere and ambiance of the album. It's a very "open" record, which is one of its strengths. It's drenched in echo and recalls the countryside, open fields of flowers and all that. Cafe Nine is extremely small, but ironically the tight quarters made the songs better. The drums were loud but not overpowering; Neige and the hired-gun rhythm guitarist complemented each other perfectly. What makes Alcest truly engaging live is how effortless they make everything look. These songs are complex and layered; the band makes it seem easy.

Being French, stage banter was limited to several quiet "Thank you"s from Neige. Even if English was their first language, the post-rock/shoegaze jams don't really lead to cracking one-liners or any stereotypical frontman quips. There was no feedback between songs, only silence from the enraptured crowd. There was a girl in the audience that flew in from Denver for this show; that's what this music means to some people. I'm fairly certain that everyone there knows they were part of something special.