Monday, June 30, 2014

Agalloch / Vex @ Empire 6/28/2014

I went to see Agalloch ($15) at Empire.  I apparently didn't know that they were that popular, because it was pretty crowded. Accordingly, I saw a bunch of people there -Sean, Jason, Sarah, Evan, Kris, Kristen, Nathan with a J, Scott, Kyler,  Milla, JACINDA, Danielle and Steve G, Steve Miller, Joel, Antonio, Annie, Brian B, Marie and Rolland, maybe one more.

The Allogochs
As I had trouble finding parking, I was wondering what was going on, was there someone hosting a birthday party somewhere in this shopping center? After fighting with 2 different Steves, I was able to make my way into the venue.  As I entered, I discovered that there were about 300+ people there this evening- which is way more than I thought there would be. I knew they had a cult following, but I wasn't imagining that Agalloch would have that draw. 

 Merchin' it up

Merch-wise, there was a lot of it, Agalloch had ($20) shirts and ($15) CDs, LPs, and some sort of art book or something. Vex had some shirts and CDs too. I didn't get anything but after the show there was a mob by the merch booth, I think they came out afterwards, but I can't confirm.

The Vexes

Vex was on when I got in. I wanted to hear Kyler's band (Cladonia Rangiferina aka Reindeer moss/lichen), but I got there too late.  Vex sounded like Enslaved to me, but with probably different lyrical content (no idea what they were singing about).  They had a heavy mix of some sort of death metal with some fast parts (moshers gon mosh) and definitely harsh vocals that I couldn't decipher.   The crowd seemed into them, based on the activity.  I didn't really get into them, but wasn't hating them either.  I think I liked them more than Agalloch, thinking about it now.

 Neckbeard. Literal neckbeard out of hand
There was certainly a cast of characters there- hipsters, some kuttes, metalheads, black metal enthusiasts, some metalcore sideswept bangs, some blond dreadlocks, Joel, and a girl in a flower top and pink jeans (!).  But the ridiculous award of the night goes to the guy with a literal neckbeard that ended up in 2 tendrils that were like dreadlocks. The closest I can find online is this, but this guy has them on his beard and not his neckbeard.. I couldn't un see it. Speaking of un-seeing things, there was a laptop with some rather particular fetishes and memes all spliced together playing in the soundboard area. I don't know what the deal was with it, but more than a few people mentioned that it was distracting to say the least. Example: You'd see some fisting followed by a cute little kitten, then back to someone vomiting all over someone.

It's not blurry, it's basically what the incense was like

Agalloch's set started with some massive burning of incense or wood chips (something related to their name). At the end of the show, they hoisted that cauldron where whatever they were burning was emanating from. The whole incense thing was messing with me, and really ended up detracting instead of enhancing- it was almost making me nauseous.  That, combined with the massive bass (my rib cage was almost shaking, like when I saw Motorhead years ago) made me retreat back to near the bar. I think people more into them were prepared and perhaps encouraging the smoke.  Antonio later told me that they do this at all their past shows that he's seen.

BRB, Agalloching

Agalloch's weird mix of metal, progressive, ambient, and post-whateverthehellthatis was a bit... of an acquired taste.  I had heard a few songs and kind of knew what I was in for, but performance wise, I thought it was boring. Not as yawn inducing as Mastodon, who forced me to sit down on the lawn and enjoy a funnel cake (which doesn't sound like a losing proposition actually).  I also think the unfamiliarity with the material (however I've seen bands such as Darker Half and not known any material but was immediately impressed) along with the obscuring smoke was hindering the enjoyment too... can't really see them, but can hear them.  The only parts I really enjoyed were the few clean guitar solos. Other than that, things kind of just...went on a bit. I think that if you were an Agalloch fan, you may have been amped, but in that kind of shoegaze way (kind of like Alcest), as the couple pits I did glimpse were met with scowls, for the most part.  There was applause/cheering and the like, as it was apparent that I was in the minority in terms of Agalloch Appreciation (AA).  These guys are very talented, no question, but I guess I'm just not into them.

Don't worry, we'll be Underground

Agalloch's vocalist John Haughm was at one point talking about the 'real' underground scene with tape trading and zines, and not the 'fake' one of today with the internet, which sounded a bit silly.  Why NOT use all the tools available with technology?  Why limit your audience, unless you must be the most kvlt, the most hip, the most underground! Hey, these guys are from Portland, so dare we say that they may be... secret hipsters? During the last song, there was about 5 minutes of drone (11:47-11:52, approximately) that seemed a bit self indulgent and unnecessary.

Overall, it was an interesting experience and was good to see friends there, and see people really into it and enjoying it. I, however, thought this was up there for worst show of the year, along with BTBAM and the locals stoner show in terms of enjoyment.  We'll see.

Next Show: um... L.A. Guns.  


  • To Anacreon
  • Carve My Eyes
  • The Cygnus
  • Light
  • Spectral Nation
  • Antithetical Age
  • Those Days are Gone
  • Violent Lucidity 

  • Intro
  • ((Serpens Caput))
  • The Astral Dialogue
  • Vales Beyond Dimension
  • Limbs
  • Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires
  • Dark Matter Gods
  • The Melancholy Spirit
  • Celestial Effigy
  • ...and the Great Cold Death of the Earth
  • Into the Painted Grey
  • Falling Snow
  • Plateau of the Ages