Sunday, July 22, 2012
LIVE REVIEW: Agalloch and Taurus at Reggie's Rock Club; July 20th, 2012
To be completely honest, when I first heard that Portland-based atmospheric metal band Agalloch was to make its third live appearance in Chicago since 2009, I found myself...not as excited as I would have been, say, two years ago. Having seen them twice already, I found myself excited to see them before and during each show, but left underwhelmed by their live performances. I still enjoyed the band, but simply resigned to the fact that they were better as a studio act. However, having 1) heard the new Faustian Echoes EP, for which this tour is celebrating and 2) reading that if a show was sans-local opening act, Agalloch would play for at least two hours, I found myself...coming around a bit. Heck, I wouldn't mind seeing some older material, so why not?
Continue reading for full live review and videos.
Tourmates Taurus, fronted by ex(?)-Dark Castle guitarist and vocalist Stevie Floyd, were definitely an interesting tourmate choice for Agalloch. This experimental doom metal duo's first release, Life, seemed interesting, what with its meandering drones, strange tonalities, and overall through-composed approach, but I wasn't sure how it would translate into a live setting. Though Floyd and drummer Ashley Spungin did a great job following the album "to a t," I couldn't help but feel a little, for lack of a better word, bored. While Taurus is a neat band to listen to on its own, it is difficult for one to really follow Taurus's calculated, cue-based drones in a live setting. Bonus points for using Russian art film "The Color of Pomegranates" as a backdrop and the short period of time when both Floyd and Spungin roared at the audience sans microphone.
Remember how I said I left my previous Agalloch live experiences underwhelmed? That certainly was not the case here, as this was by far the best Agalloch performance I've seen, both digitally and in person. This tour marked Agalloch's first time including the at-times lengthy acoustic/clean guitar parts they often left out on previous tours, meaning we actually got to hear the "I walked down to a river" section of "In The Shadow of Our Pale Companion" in its original context, rather than the distorted, Fields Of The Nephilim-inspired live replacement to which we had gotten used to. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this particular live set was the near absence of their last full-length, the critically acclaimed Marrow of the Spirit, with "Ghosts of Midwinter Fires" acting as the album's sole appearance this time around. Aside from the lengthy (but slightly edited) Faustian Echoes, which the band pulled off near flawlessly, Agalloch decided to step back and play older material, paying special attention to Pale Folklore. The band ripped through "As Embers Dress The Sky," "Dead Winter Days," and, my first and personal favorite Agalloch song, the magnificent "Hallways of Enchanted Ebony," which was an all too pleasant surprise. The band also chose to revisit "Of Stone, Wind, And Pillor," live, but surprised the audience with the massive show closer, their color of Sol Invictus's "Kneel To The Cross," riling up a massive, full-audience singalong; "Summer is a-coming in: arise, arise."
My only real complaint concerning Agalloch's set, aside from frontman John Haughm's voice, which I feel doesn't fit in a live setting for microphone-related reasons, was the steady amount of feedback emanating from bassist Jason Walton's amp. Though it was quiet enough to ignore for the most part, it definitely became a bother during more dynamic sections.
Oh, and be sure to pick up a copy of the Faustian Echoes LP, since I didn't. That Taurus boxset looked pretty awesome, too.