Minsk

support Kowloon Walled City
author AP date 01/09/16 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

Arriving straight from a football match, it pains me to discover that I have missed out on The Day We Left Earth’s comeback show, and that the opportunity to assess the compatibility of the post-rockers’ brand new EP ”To the Shores” has thus passed for the time being. Even more frustrating is the regrettably common sight of no more than 30, maybe 35 people at KB18, despite the negligible price of 60 DKK to watch a band as cult-iconic as Minsk with a pretty strong supporting caste as well. Whatever the reason, the circumstances are unfavourable to say the least, for the two U.S.-born groups to make a true impact with their long-awaited débuts on Danish soil.

Unfortunately, no photographer was available for this concert.

Kowloon Walled City

In a sense though, the dingy confines and lots of empty space provide an ideal setting for this San Francisco, CA quartet’s caustic, mechanistic take on post-metal. The ring and clang of Scott Evans and Jon Howell’s guitar tone feel right at home in such a deliberately underground environment, in which each note seems to pinball from pillar to pillar, wall to wall to recreate the bleak atmosphere heard on the band’s most recent album ”Grievances”. Having never been to a Kowloon Walled City concert before, I am unsure how their audience is supposed to react, but I would be lying to suggest that the response here in enthusiastic. With most of the patrons’ arms crossed and eyes expressing perusing rather than enjoyment, the proceedings feel closer to a final examination than a rock concert, with Evans, Howell, bassist Ian Miller and drummer Dan Sneddon attempting to convince a panel of experts.

It is a decent show the four musicians stage, interspersed with dry humour about bringing 200 hoodies to sell during a summer European tour and barely scraping the expenses as a result. Miller in particular has a penchant for the wilder moves during some of the ‘faster’ tracks such as “The Grift”, but in honesty, it feels like Kowloon Walled City would be capable of a much more captivating performance if they had a responsive crowd to work with. From a musical perspective, the live renditions of “Your Best Years” and “White Walls” leave little to desire, sounding every bit, if not even more anguished and claustrophobic than on record, played at such a high volume. But Kowloon Walled City’s showmanship does leave a rather ordinary aftertaste, as though the band simply wanted to get the job done tonight and left surprises and such for better attended shows.

5

Minsk

Not so with Minsk. Centered around the charismatic Tim Mead on keys and vocals, the quintet is in a different league than the ‘Walled City in terms of collective exertion, ploughing through their dense and psychedelic prog-sludge with an intensity so burning it leaves even a crowd this scarce sweating in awe. The band’s long-winding creations have not truly unfurled until you have heard them, and felt their energy live, with all the artfully repeating riffs, tribal percussion patterns and swathes of pedal effects fusing into an extraordinarily arresting concert experience. It ceases to matter that the person next to you might be more than a metre away as songs like “To the Garish Remembrance of Failure” and “When the Walls Fell” moving to fill every inch of that empty space.

Even more captivating is the group’s powerful visual aesthetic, with guitarists Chris Bennett & Aaron Austin, bassist Zachary Livingston and drummer Kevin Rendleman further heightening the intensity with a constant maelstrom of movement in a crescent around the intriguingly pacific Mead. The contrast between him and his four colleagues is as staggering as it is hypnotising, not to mention the perfect metaphor for the dynamics found within and between Minsk’s songs (to put that idea into context: the atmospherics of “Requiem: From Substance to Substance” sound almost tranquil in the wake of the barrage unleashed by, say, “The Way is Through”).

If there is one thing to criticise Minsk for however, it is that the termination of the concert feels premature. “Requiem…” turns out to be the final song of the evening, and even though its placement at the rear end of Minsk’s 2009 LP “With Echoes in the Movement of Stone” makes it suitable for that role, as a conclusion to an otherwise fiery setlist it does come across as a little bit anticlimactic tonight. It leaves me hungering for more, and given the low turnout, I fear that further opportunities to experience this band live in Denmark will be far from frequent.

8

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