Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

agalloch_helen_money_tour

Agalloch are one of my favorite bands, and I have been fortunate enough to see them 3 times prior to this show. Their live shows are like a religious experience for me, and it feels that much of their fan base feels the same way. Until the last couple of years, they were not a consistent touring band. Even though they have been around since 1995, they started out as a mysterious band that would only come around on special occasions. That has definitely changed, as 2015 saw the fifth Agalloch show since December of 2010. However, word of an Agalloch show has remained a cause for celebration, as they can only happen during the summer months, winter break, or spring break (as one of the members is a professor at a University). This was the third time in a row that the band would be playing at The Echoplex, and upon lining up there was a strange sense of deja vu, as the faces in the audience remain the same. Even the opening band was someone who had previously opened for Agalloch at this very same venue. Nonetheless, the crowd was anxious to witness another great set.

IMG_7281

It seems that Agalloch always brings the rain with them to Southern California. The weather was hot and humid but cloudy and sprinkling at the same time, which is unusual weather for us. Because of this, the crowd was anxious to get into the venue. The line was long, and the Echoplex filled up fast. People rushed for the front, or for the merch booth which is always filled with tour exclusives at an Agalloch show. Helen Money started the show at 9 PM. I had previously seen her open up for Agalloch at The Echoplex as well as opening up for Neurosis in Santa Ana. She is a very interesting opening act because the set consists of just her and her cello (not something people are used to seeing at a metal show, but it totally makes sense at an Agalloch show). She uses effect pedals such as distortion, tremolo, reverb, and delay to create unique sounds that I have never heard out of a cello before. She also uses looping pedals so that she can play over herself. The music from the set comes from her latest release Arriving Angels. It was the same set I had previously seen two times before, but it is still enjoyable to see because of its diversity. She goes from drone, to playing heavy metal riffs, to playing dark jazzy licks, to dissonant chords, to classical sounding melodies, to using drum tracks, all the while creating an unparalleled amount of atmosphere. It is a ominous set as she spends much of it looking down at the floor rather than the audience. She takes brief times to address the crowd and thank Agalloch, but the cello does the majority of the talking for the set. She has done a lot of work with different bands and musicians, but it often impresses me how underrated she is. I would love to see her become more of a force in the metal world and continue to collaborate with different and exciting musicians.

IMG_7176 IMG_7178

IMG_7174

IMG_7171

IMG_7170

The crowd was pretty respectful during her set, but the sense of excitement was hard to hide as she left the stage and Agalloch began to set up. The lights went down, and “(Serpens Caput)” from their latest release The Serpent & The Sphere began to play. During this time, lead singer John began to light incense, something that anyone who has been to an Agalloch show should be familiar with. The smell filled the room, and helped create a sense of the forest in the dark venue (something that was also enhanced by the tree stumps sitting at the edge of the stage). From there, the band grabbed their instruments, and went straight into “The Astral Dialogue” from their new album. Admittedly, I was not as impressed by their new album as much as I was the previous four. But that didn’t stop this from being an absolutely amazing opener. Agalloch always amaze me by putting together setlists that flow together incredibly well, and this one was no exception. It continued the bands tradition of taking chances and risks, while trying to please their fans at the same time. From the heavy driving riffs which created lots of headbanging, they moved on to the more ambient “Vales Beyond Dimension” from the same album. Before anyone could get mad at all the new material being played, they pulled out a couple of fan favorites in the form of “Limbs” and “Ghosts of The Midwinter Fires”. They returned to the new album with “Dark Matter Gods” before going all the way back to their first album, with the ever popular “Hallways of Enchanted Ebony”. The crowd went crazy as they returned to the Ashes Against the Grain album with “Falling Snow”. Then came time for a pleasant surprise, as they played “Great Cold Death of the Earth” (my favorite Agalloch song) for the first time ever in Los Angeles. Finally, they concluded the main set with “Into The Painted Grey” which is an epic track that goes through fast moments and beautiful melody lines. The band exited the stage with the sound of drone, but returned with two encores: “Of Stone, Wind & Pilor” as well as “Plateau of the Ages”, which is an 10 minute instrumental track.

IMG_7181

IMG_7205

IMG_7213

IMG_7219

IMG_7224 IMG_7225

IMG_7228 IMG_7229

IMG_7230

IMG_7231

IMG_7237

IMG_7242

IMG_7247

IMG_7248

IMG_7253

IMG_7258

IMG_7259

IMG_7260

IMG_7261

IMG_7275

IMG_7276

Some of the highlights of the set were the crowds reactions to the older tracks, John playing drums during the middle section of “Great Cold Death of the Earth”, and the extremely risky idea of having a long instrumental as the encore. John has gotten extremely comfortable with talking to the audience and joking around, and the rest of the members do a great job with engaging the audience and having them sing along to the music. The set even made me appreciate the new album much more as the songs worked really well in a live setting. The band hung around and talked to the fans after the set. They seem much more comfortable engaging with their fan base as opposed to the first time I saw them live in 2010. Many people who saw the band for the first time expressed the pure enjoyment that the show left them with, as did the people who had seen them multiple times. It left me wishing that I could relive it all over again the next night down in San Diego.

IMG_7280

Setlist:

  1. (serpens caput)
  2. The Astral Dialogue
  3. Vales Beyond Dimension
  4. Limbs
  5. Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires
  6. Dark Matter Gods
  7. Falling Snow
  8. Hallways of Enchanted Ebony
  9. …and the Great Cold Death of the Earth
  10. Into the Painted Grey

    Encore:

  11. Of Stone, Wind, and Pillor
  12. Plateau of the Ages
Advertisements