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Friday, March 21, 2008

A Night With No Words: Russian Circles and Red Sparowes at Neumo’s

posted by on March 21 at 15:07 PM

redsparowes1.JPGPhoto by Morgan Keuler.

My favorite things about last nights Russian Circles/Red Sparowes show:

#1: Watching the drummer for Russian Circles. That dude is a machine. He plays with such amazing precision—one second his sticks are gently kissing the cymbals quicker than hummingbird wings. The next, he’s pounding on the bass and snare with what looks like complete recklessness, but is actually pure control. He can play slow, he can play fast, it’s absolutely mesmerizing. He’s a drum monster, a robot. He’s not human.

russiancirclesdrummer.JPGPhoto by Morgan Keuler.

#2: The dude with the red trucker hat that had “GNARWHALE” scrawled across the front of it. There was a little narwhale drawn in the middle. It was the best hat ever.

#3: Most of Red Sparowes’ projections. They weren’t random. I am usually anti band projecting things while they play, as I generally don’t find any correlation between the pictures and the music and it feels worthless. But last night, during Red Sparowes’ bombastic lullabies, the screen flashed with footage of fireworks, falling water, hypnotizing jellyfish, and other appropriate images. The footage of the Cold War was sorta a bummer, though.

redsparowes3.JPGPhoto by Morgan Keuler.

#4: The fact that Russian Circles didn’t have projections. Their music doesn’t need a thing. I love that they’re confident enough to let it stand alone.

#5: Remembering my earplugs. It was so loud, it was almost like I wasn’t wearing any. Without them, it probably would’ve been a little overwhelming and I may not have been able to enjoy it as much. With the earplugs you could better hear Red Sparowes’ three-guitar explosion.

russiancirclesMK.JPGPhoto by Morgan Keuler.

#6: Russian Circles’ new material. Especially the song with the pickslides. Their new album comes out in May and there are songs that are heavier than anything they’ve ever done and also prettier than anything they’ve ever done. Last night they played both (with Brian Cook on bass). It was so killer.

#7: Not a single word was muttered from the stage. No one was mic’d. The music was all anyone had to communicate with. And yet the crowed was enthralled the entire time.

redsparowes4.JPGPhoto by Morgan Keuler.

#8: Red Sparowes’ slide guitar. So well used. Its placement in songs brought a surreal, dreamy quality to the music that many other instrumental bands haven’t thought to embrace. I wanted to pull out a cot and take a nap, just to see what magic their music would make in my head as I slept.

#9: The guy who yelled “CHICAGO-CORE!” at Russian Circles. That was funny. I think he was the same dude that yelled “FUCK YES!” during the heavy, deafening climax of their last song. Well played.

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I don't get what's wrong with video/film projections, whether they're obviously correlative or not (and as long as a band provides their own visuals, then of course they're not really random). Oblique or dissonant visuals can be just as cool as "appropriate" ones; chance synchronicity can be just as cool as when it's carefully planned. Of course, some shows/projections are better than others (I've never seen the LED screen at the Sky Church put to good use, for instance).

I'm curious, what did you think of Neurosis when they played with Converge recently?

Posted by Eric Grandy | March 21, 2008 3:44 PM

I am so bummed I was too sick to see this show last night. I'm glad I got a chance to see Russian Circles at SXSW, at least. But Red Sparowes! They're so epic.

Posted by Alicia | March 21, 2008 4:09 PM

I've seen Russian Circles a bunch before and I agree that the new material is quite delightful...but Red Sparowes absolutely killed it. I loved the projection thrown in there. Fantastic show.

Posted by Milton | March 21, 2008 4:16 PM

I actually wasn't able to go to the Converge/Neurosis shows. Although, I did hear that Neurosis and their projections were great.

And I do love it when the projections and the music work--the unplanned surprises can make a show great.

But sometimes I personally get distracted by the visuals bands use. I get too caught up in wondering why they're there, and trying to decide if they're necessary or not. Often, I conclude that they did nothing for the performance.

Last night, though, there were a lot of moments where things lined up just right. It was so great.

Posted by Megan Seling | March 21, 2008 4:21 PM

I forgot my earplugs at home last night, and I didn't think the show was exceptionally loud. I've definitely heard louder shows at Neumo's, like the Sunn O)))/Jesu show last year.

It was a really good show though. I'm glad I was finally able to see Russian Circles after missing them the last like dozen times they were here!

Posted by bunnypuncher | March 21, 2008 5:55 PM

@5 Oh God, Sunn wasn't loud... they were lethal. I did NOT have earplugs for that. It hurt.

Posted by Megan Seling | March 21, 2008 6:00 PM

russian circles are ALWAYS amazing. red sparrowes leaves A LOT to be desired, for me anyway. but i digress, RC is one of the best instrumental bands ive heard in ages.

Posted by jehu | March 23, 2008 6:04 PM

As much as I love Red Sparowes, they were blown out of the water by Russian Circles.

I was standing right in front of the guy that yelled "CHICAGO-CORE!"
I hope that term doesn't catch on.

Posted by Drew | March 23, 2008 7:28 PM

It was difficult for Red Sparowes to follow up RC. RC creates such amazing, full sound with only three players. Red Sparowes had more people attempting a similar sound. It just didn't come across as well.

Posted by Dr R | March 24, 2008 8:56 AM

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