Despite the fact that the brief run of shows featuring Sannhet and This Will Destroy You has already concluded, I still felt compelled to share some of the sights and sounds from what was a thoroughly entertaining night in my hometown. So, here I am. The tour featuring these two instrumental post-metal masterminds was fleeting, to say the least, covering only seven cities together between November 12th and 18th. There’s no doubt that I was thrilled to see that one of their stops happened to be a few blocks away from my residence. I tend to miss a quite a few shows that come through my area, but I had literally no excuse not to turn up for this one.
While I have attended a small handful shows at the 3S Artspace in Porstmouth over the past couple of years, this is only the second that I would file into the ‘metal’ category. You may recall that earlier this year I stumbled on Morne’s set on a late weekend night. As much as I enjoyed that evening, the crowd was rather sparse. Nine months later, however, and the setting was much different. If this show wasn’t sold out, it was damn close to it. 3S is a smaller venue, so when it fills up, you certainly feel it. And for this show, the packed house definitely enhanced the environment these bands projected from the stage.
There were only the two bands on this bill, with Sannhet kicking things off. As much as I like discovering new bands through opening sets, there is something to be said about a smaller bill that offers the performers longer set times. It offers more opportunity in which they can leave an impression on an audience. Tonight, the added time for both was key. As Sannhet began performing, beams of bright lights danced over the stage and audience in time with their upbeat, yet authoritative passages. As the stage continuously and rapidly alternated between dark and light, we were served the perfect visual supplement to their pensive music. It’s a term used probably way too frequently when describing “post” or “experimental” anything, but this set was simply entrancing. You didn’t so much focus on one aspect or another of what was happening on stage, you just sorta stood there absorbing every element of the performance with every sense.
To circle back a bit, I mentioned how important the lengthier (relatively speaking) sets were to each artist, and that was true of Sannhet for a couple reasons. Aside from the obvious referenced above, they weren’t without a couple technical difficulties when the guitar disappeared on us a couple of times. As a trio, each element of their sound carries a tremendous amount of weight on the overall aura of their music, so you could sense some frustration from that stage. Yet, these moments were quickly and easily forgotten as they continued to flow seamlessly through their set without missing a beat. I had never seen Sannhet before in person, but it should go without saying that their visual performance absolutely takes what you hear on their records to an entirely different level. Through both sounds and visuals, it was a really cool experience.
This Will Destroy You, on the other hand, is a band I have grown very familiar with in the past year or so. Having last seen them open for Deafheaven in Boston, I was curious to see what they would do with a headlining set. This time around, I was actually familiar with some of the songs and could decipher when certain tracks ended and other began. While still a mesmerizing instrumental set, it didn’t feel as much like a singular composition when compared to Sannhet’s, despite both bands pausing between songs briefly. Covering a range of tracks from the past decade-plus of TWDY discography, I was pleased to hear “The Mighty Rio Grande” and “Quiet” bookend the evening.
From a visual standpoint, it’s truly fascinating to see this collective manipulate their stage setup. Their sound is obviously intricate enough on record, but seeing them at work gives you a far greater understanding and appreciation for the sound they create. From start to finish, they sounded completely on their game, working together effortlessly. Minutes flew by as they wandered from one song to the next, one passage to the next. And at this point in the evening, the venue was totally packed. Just the image of everyone crowded against the stage, standing seemingly in awe at the lights and sounds coming at them was quite the visual add. I’m all about active audiences, and obviously have seen (dealt with?) more than enough of them of them. But you almost recognize a greater audience appreciation when everyone is standing motionless, totally nonspeaking, fixated on the stage. Except for me, who was running around like an idiot with my camera, probably ruining the experience for everyone else. I’m the worst.
So I guess I’ll wrap it up. I went into this show familiar with one artist, and fairly new to the other. I walked out a complete fan of both. I tend to get a little apathetic when I see a bill that only includes instrumental bands, but the way these two styles worked off each other set the absolutely perfect environment. This was a brief run of shows that covered a very limited area, but here’s hoping they put something more extensive together in the future. It was different kind of metal show, but one that was enjoyable from end to end. And being a weekday, it allowed me to roll into the next day in slightly better shape than after most shows. Win-win.
Oh. And the full photo gallery can be found here, on my personal site.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”