Saturday night’s alright for fighting. That was the reason for us to attend last night the Bucharest leg of the tour which Russian Circles were doing in support of their latest album, Guidance, released in August 2016 on Sargent House Records.
For us this was the second time watching them live and we were anxious to see how the band will perform in Bucharest. I discovered them 3 years ago, just after the band released Memorial and opened Chelsea Wolfe‘s European Tour . I was really impressed how a band can sound so heavy, with only 3 members (and absolutely no vocals at all) so after the Parisian show we promised ourselves we’ll see them again someday.
Well, that someday came yesterday, in Bucharest’s Control Club, the perfect location for such a show.
On this tour, Russian Circles were joined as an opening guest by Helen Money, an American cello player who has also worked, besides her collaboration with Russian Circles for their Geneva album, with artists like Mono, Anthrax and Jarboe. To be honest, I didn’t listen to her music before, so I did not know what to expect.
We arrived at the venue exactly when she started her show and I cannot say that I was touched by the angel of music. I cannot deny her musical prowess when handling this impossible instrument, but something, inside, did not resonate with me at all. I kinda liked the track Rift, cause it was more metal, so to speak, but that’s all. I noticed she had a lot of effects on that cello and that was interesting since I never knew a cello can sound like that.
I liked that she received the proper appreciation from the audience, because she really knows her stuff and every artist should have his work appreciated by the public, otherwise the concerts will become pointless. The crowded Control gave a warm round of applause and, after her show ended, the small and necessary change over began, preparing the stage for Russian Circles.
Somewhere around 10:10 PM, the 3 guys got up on stage and started their show with the first two tracks from Guidance, Asa and Vorel. Let me just say that some might find post rock/metal quite a boring genre (they might be not that wrong, in my opinion) but that might happen especially on disc. Live, some bands really manage to stand out and create/inflict a powerful impression upon the listener since they somehow manage to sound in a different, heavier way.
I can say this about Hemelbestormer, which were amazing during their performance last August at DBE, Aluk Todolo, Cecilia Eyes and even Mono. Russian Circles make no difference and live, these 3 dudes really kick some serious ass. The style changes completely and that linear, somehow boring sound is suddenly replaced by a much heavier approach that instantly smashes your brains and stomach (especially if you stay in the first rows).
The heaviness these 3 guys play with makes the vocal lines almost obsolete and that way you can just concentrate on their playing style, which is absolutely stunning. While Brian (bass/guitar) and Mike (guitar) are the ones in charge of setting the mood, Dave (drums) is the spine of this band. This drummer is one bad motherfucker who can turn his drum set into a piece of clay at the end of the show. The energy he consumes when hitting those cymbals and the heaviness of the double bass drums are the foundation of all the Russian Circles music is based upon.
Watching those guys get into the mood and performing 100% really made me proud and happy for having the chance to witness such a perfect display of musicianship. The set list they chose was very inspired, comprising songs from almost all their albums to date, with a small, obvious balance inclined towards Guidance.
After the 2 songs mentioned above, the band played Deficit, from Memorial, which is one of my favorite Russian Circles songs ever and I was extremely happy to hear it (again). It’s that type of song which grows from a slow tempo into something so heavy that at some point you think everything will come down on you, crushing your fragile being under its weight. An amazing song which I am very glad they still include in their live shows, it’s already a classic.
From Memorial, we were taken a step closer to our days, with the track 309 from Empros, released 5 years ago. After 309, the band moved back to 2016 with Afrika, switching again to an old album, Station, from which Harper Lewis was played.
The show ended with Calla (Guidance) and the band left the stage in a sea of applause. The public requested an encore and Russian Circles returned to perform another track from Station, the 7 minute long Younglblood.
At the end of the end of the song, it was obvious the show will end there, the musicians were exhausted after a little more than one hour on stage and the effort took its toll.
Before ending this short review of such a remarkable night, I need to mention and thank the promoter, Doru/Kogaionon, for doing a fantastic job with this show (and all the shows he has put on, actually). He’s one of those lone wolves who, even if they do not gain much from this, are stubborn enough to continue doing it. We need these promoters, we need this kind of concerts, with bands that are highly appreciated abroad in the so-called “mainstream” underground and, most importantly, are at the peak of their career.
The atmosphere last night was amazing, the merchandise stand was full of goodies (lots of vinyls, cd-s and shirts), the sound was impeccable and the 2 bands performed incredibly.
Sometimes I just wish I could see more concerts like these here in Bucharest instead of travelling abroad to catch the bands on tour.