Sunn 0))) - Tegen Tonen
As Sunn 0))) teamed up with their legendary predecessor Earth I of course was obligated to visit a show. I ventured of to Paradiso in Amsterdam to witness their tour for the Black1 album, which was combined here with a couple of other weird acts. I was having a pretty bad case of the flu, but that could not stop me from seeing this show.
As I entered the venue the first band was already playing. They go under a very interesting name; Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice, and they had an equally interesting line-up, namely a female singer who also did some small electronics, a drummer, a effects guy, a guitarist and a female playing a very weird string based instrument that I had never seen before. The music was composed of mysterious structures that were very gentile to listen to, but made one scratch his head too. Very hard to describe what they were actually doing. Just imagine psychedelic soundscapes with epic, almost biblical lyrics. Instruments were played by several members, trading drums for guitars and or vocals, and there even was a part were they just all sang as a choir, without microphones. Very experimental and interesting.
I saw a little bit of Sir Richard Bisschop, but that consisted of acoustic guitar compositions and I wasn’t feeling like that at all. The room was way too crowded anyway and I wanted to be able to see Earth from a descend spot.
Now as some of you may know, Earth’s album Earth 2 was the inspiration for the whole being of Sunn 0))). So I was quite interested about this show, although I didn’t expect them to surpass what the headlining band was going to do. They played a calm and relaxing set, never getting really heavy, but impressing nonetheless. Their line-up consisted of the two guitarists, a female drummer that kept the tempo just right throughout the show and a guy that handled some effects and played the trombone. If I’m not mistaken then they mainly played material from the later recordings, especially the last one.
The guitar really interested me, because the fiddles he did here and there sounded like they were dipped in a country sauce, which gave it a bit of a hillbilly space sound. Even when that person in question talked in the microphone you could hear that he was definitely from down south. All in all, I was very glad to have witnessed one of their shows, but when it was over I knew for sure that Sunn 0))) was going to trample the whole thing as if it was nothing.
After that, the other stage had Espers on it, and I was shaking terribly due to that fucking flu. I was told that Espers was a neo-folk band, and that scared me off so much that I decided not to check it out at all. I had to mentally prepare for the thunderous mayhem yet to come, by inhaling a particular product of mother nature, catch my drift?
Immediately after the Earth show smoke machines starting blowing smoke, not to stop until Sunn 0))) had finished. When the first bombastic industrial boom blasted through the speaker, trembling the Paradiso doors so loud you could hear it up front, the entire venue was filled with smoke. There was barely any light on the stage, so nobody noticed that the band already had gathered on stage, encircled in smoke and dressed in the black monk’s outfits. Little did we know this would be the best Sunn 0))) show ever visited by me and my fellow fanatic. At the first encounter of the guitar pick with one of the drop A tuned guitar strings I felt that this was going to be extremely loud. And this was just letting the pick slide over the string, not even hitting a full chord. Fear got a grip on my heart, and the first actual strike was made. An assassination on my eardrums, I tell yee!
Words cannot express the volume of this show, must have been somewhere way over 130 decibels, and we were supposed to take that beating for fifty minutes, which eventually became seventy. I think the main cause of them sounding even lower and dronier than usual was the fact that there was a bass player present at this show, that had to strike his guitar even less that mister Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley. Beside those three, there of course was a dude handling some terrifying effects, the trombone returned on stage, not to be heard at all I think because the rest was TOO low and TOO loud.
And so, after like thirty minutes or so we could welcome Malefic from Casthur on stage to treat us on some very evil harsh black metal screams that send shivers down your spine. He was also dressed in the black robe and wore corpse paint on his face. Some assholes up front were not too happy about that I think and threw cups at him, too which he reacted very agitated, threatening to throw his mike at them and kicking back the cups. Luckily it stayed to a minor incident.
Now as the last tones were struck and the last feedbacks faded away after Greg worshipping his guitar and the massive backline of amplifiers (I think there were like over ten of them lined up on stage) peace returned in Paradiso. I was quite sure I had sustained some serious hearing damage and so was my fellow fanatic, who has attended more concerts than anyone I know. Yet we were both quite sure that this was the loudest show we both ever had seen and that it is impossible to push the boundaries of extreme music any further without actually hurting people with it. I had trouble hearing decently for the next four or five days, and now all kinds of weird peeps keep returning in my ears at very weird moments. But it was all worth it, support the Sunn 0))) cult! To all those going to an upcoming show, bring earplugs or don’t stand too close to the stage. Be warned…