Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Agalloch at Kings

If you saw my post below, you know I had pretty high hopes for Agalloch, who played Kings on Sunday. I've been to quite a few heavy shows lately that were pretty disappointing -- not because the bands were bad, but because the venue was practically empty. No matter how great a band may be, they just won't have the same energy while playing to a half-empty venue. There are a lot of open-minded metal heads in this area. I'm not sure why so many shows are bombing. I've heard a few theories about the split between the Volume 11 loyalists and various other factions. I'm not sure it's that simple. I can say that most of the metal heads I know are in their 30s  or early 40s and have stable jobs that require them to be at work at 9 a.m. or earlier. If the average weeknight show doesn't start until 10 p.m., they're not going to come out unless it's a band they really want to see. I can also say that if we as a community don't find a way to get out and support heavy shows, the venues are going to stop booking them.

Having said all that, Agalloch played to a packed house and totally lived up to expectations. In retrospect, their show last year at Kings was probably my favorite of the year, and Sunday's show was easily my favorite of 2012. Singer-guitarist John Haughm once again began the show by lighting incense and placing it around the stage in tiny iron cauldrons. No offense to the band, but I honest to God think that incense made the show for me. Last year I liked it so much I Facebooked Aesop Dekker who said he thought it was actual agalloch wood. Evidently I'm not alone in my love of that incense because as soon as it started billowing over the rapt audience, the dude next to me looked at me and said, "they should sell that at the merch table." He's right; they should sell that at the merch table.

The band is touring behind their latest one-track release, "Faustian Echoes,"which they played during the show. Personally I was more looking forward to once again hearing songs from "Marrow of the Spirit," especially "Into the Painted Grey," and they didn't disappoint. That song might actually be one of my favorite songs of all time, and it was wonderful to hear it live again.

I didn't quite know what to make of openers Taurus (above), a two-woman, guitar-and-drums band that included Stevie Floyd of Dark Castle. I was pretty enthralled by the ethereal, 1970s Middle Eastern art movies that they projected onto the walls behind them. The music itself was loud, heavy, and exotic, recalling Diamanda Galas on more than one occasion. Each of their songs had at least one part I really dug, but a lot of stuff that did nothing for me. See more photos.


Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,

Count me in that early 40's crowd. You are exactly right about not being able to make many shows that start around 10pm. I have to get up early for work and to get my kids ready for school. I used to go to Vol 11 quite often because they started much earlier and I was usually home by midnight.

Agalloch was one of the shows that I would not have missed except that it took place while I was away on vacation.

Always enjoy your photos and thoughts on local shows. Thanks for what you do! -Rhett

Karen A. Mann said...

Thanks Rhett!


I also agree with you in part as far as people not coming out to all shows since I'm part of that group and my new job is going to make things tougher. With the bad economy and money being tight for all, our entertainment choices become limited.
With that said I disagree with your point that people in the local music scene are open-minded. I like a variety of extreme metal (as evident with my work on Scumfeast Metal 666) but not everyone else here does. Vol 11 was never at full capacity for most of the shows I saw there. And the ones which were always had more people from out of town or even out of state then locals. That's just the way it is. People choose what they like as far as metal goes and there no such thing as "heavy music" as a genre term. All extreme music be it metal or punk is heavy to indie rockers. The words "heavy music" is a phrase created recently by indie rocker scribes (kinda like alternative music, lol)to be snobbish and intolerant towards metal, also because the terms "indie metal" & "hipster" have become complete jokes.
Be that as it may you can't get people into traditional metal, death metal, doom, black metal or thrash kicking and screaming to see a band who they don't care for even if I, which I have, say are a good band who pushes blackened folk to the avant garde edge. I've played AGALLOCH for others and they don't like em. On a similar point you can't drag people, who like trendy 3rd wave sludge or indie rock with some metal influences, to a Metal show.
Also people have their favorite hangouts where they feel comfortable regardless of who is on stage. I go to Slims, the Dive Bard and the Berk, it's rare to see the same people come out to all of those venues. Another thing is that it's not just Raleigh. Go out to Charlotte to the Tremont, which has taken all of the big shows by touring bands of late, and you'll see those shows are not packed. MAYHEM bombed there and that's even knowing that their area has more black metal fans than all of the Triangle. The BM shows they have in smaller clubs out there or in SC would never be done here. Where were all of the so-called open minded people at Slims to see MIDNIGHT? How come the local Independent music fest line-up only has one local metal act who is known world wide while there are a half dozen others here in the Triangle? How come certain local bands tend to rather play in front of friends with similar sounding bands who they are also friends with instead of playing with different bands?
Answer a few of those questions honestly, like I'm honest, and then you will understand why the local music scene is the way it is. In fact it's always been that way. The die hard metal/extreme music fans are here. They came out to the Caboose, the Switch and in a few times the Brewery. They come out to the Dive, Lincoln and the real NC Metal Fest over a year ago. The trendy people are more of your concern. Why do the trendy people not come out to Metal shows?
Because they don't like metal.