support Hexvessel + The Fauns
author MST date 30/01/14 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

Since I started writing for I have almost exclusively dealt with metal in its many forms. The gig I went to a couple of days ago in Copenhagen has to be the furthest I've ever moved away from my comfort zone. Sure, the French shoegazers in Alcest started out as a black metal band and there were still traceable metal elements in their first three records, but now on album number 4 they've completely abandoned screamed vocals and blasting drums in favor of a full-blown shoegaze/post-rock sound. Unsurprisingly, the support bands for their 2014 European tour - their first headlining tour to visit Denmark - were bands who sound very foreign to me. Nevertheless, I have developed an open mind and as you may read further down, if you wish, I ended up having an incredible night.

All photos by Kenny Swan

The Fauns singer Alison

The Fauns

The Fauns describe their sound as "Indie Noisepop", a description that certainly makes sense when hearing the British group for the first time. It makes all the sense in the world that Alcest would bring this band with them on this tour. The music is dreamy, easy on the ears yet quite noisy at the same time. There's a shoegazy atmosphere surrounding the band, with especially the lead guitarist stationed on the left side of the stage as well as the singer in the middle really embracing the emotional nature of their music. Alison, the singer, has an incredibly gentle voice that further enforces the dreamy nature of the band's sonic universe. Unfortunately though, I enjoyed the music a lot more when I closed my eyes, because there wasn't much of a performance to behold. When Alison wasn't singing, she often stepped back and looked to her bandmates on either side of her microphone stand. The only one who really stood out as a performer was the lead guitarist to the left who went all in on emotional credibility and really lived his music. On the other side of the stage, there was neither engaging physical movement, interaction or any clear emotions to spot. With Alison looking insecure rather than charmingly frail and gentle, the band didn't come off as a particular rehearsed unit. And it was a shame, because their music is the perfect foundation to build a good introverted show upon.


Hexvessel frontman Mat McNerney


It was time for me to get surprised, and as it turned out no one could've done that better than Hexvessel. Formed by the British Mat McNerney, who has previously played in the black metal bands Dødheimsgard and Code, the otherwise Finnish band Hexvessel play a really interesting form of psychedelic folk music that ocassionally adds hints of stoner rock for the heavier passages. The sextet took the stage in convincing manner, with Kimmo Helén's keyboard facing McNerney in order to make room for everything. McNerney proved to be a great frontman, both when adressing the crowd with mysterious messages such as: "Now we have some woods to conjure", but also as he performed with an amazing presence on stage, showed genuine feelings and practically lived the tales of mystical forests portrayed by the group so convincingly. From the magnificent "Sacred Marriage" through the heavier "His Portal Tomb" and many other great tunes, Helén pulled out both a trumpet and a violin in exchange for his keyboard to add more folky elements to the already impressive sound. McNerney's voice was absolutely phenomenal: the range, the feelings behind the words he sang and the power, as proven when he often sang with little to no instrumentation backing him up. I was pretty much blown away by the authenticity, originality, skill and stage presence the Hexvessel proved to possess, and considering that I don't normally like the genres that Hexvessel have mixed together in their music I have to applaud Hexvessel and implore anyone to explore this great band, both on record and in the live setting.




As positively surprised as I admittedly was at how much I liked the two previous bands, this night was all about Alcest. I am most definitely an Alcest fanboy, even though their latest offering, "Shelter", hasn't hit me the way the other three albums did because of its departure from the realm of metal. Nevertheless, the last time I saw Alcest I wasn't entirely convinced, so I was very, very excited to see what the French shoegazers led by mastermind Neige had planned for us all. Along with the only other member of the band, Winterhalter on drums, Neige had brought his regular touring members consisting of bassist Indria Saray and rhythm guitarist Zero who also provided some great backing vocals.

Alcest's live bassist Indria Saray

Opening everything with "Opale", the lead single from "Shelter", two things immediately became clear to me: first of all, the new sound works absolutely wonderfully in the live setting, and second, whatever I had to complain about the first time I saw Neige and co. live was completely gone. The sound was absolutely perfect, as it was during all three bands this night at BETA; the vocals were perfectly placed in the mix and nothing was too loud. And I had forgotten my earplugs! Neige proved to have evolved massively as a frontman as he made everyone feel at home in front of the stage and showed how much emotion he puts into writing and performing his very personal music. Zero and Saray performed well, but naturally let Neige have most of the spotlight. The setlist was pretty much perfect: with this tour being a promotional tour for the new album, it wasn't surprising that five new songs were played, but with seven songs from the first three albums interspersed between the new tracks, no one could have been disappointed with the material presented. The first half of the show was a mix between songs from "Shelter" and last year's "Les Voyages De L'Âme", while the second half brought back songs from the first two records. Needless to say, this fanboy was in absolute ecstacy throughout the ordeal, and during the several climaxes, the highlight of which being "Là Où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles" specifically when Neige turned to screamed vocals, a tear or two were dropped.

After the iconic title track from the first album, "Souvenirs d'un autre Monde", Alcest left the stage briefly in order to come back and play one last song, the fantastic closing track "Délivrance" from the new album. It is an incredibly etheral piece that perfectly ended a night that I had never thought would be as good as it was. This is obviously a fanboy's rambling worship of one of his favourite bands, but the quality of Alcest's music and the authenticity with which they performed their tunes on this evening simply cannot be understated. Neige is a magician, and this was not the last time he and his band have put me under their wonderful spell.


As a last note, I feel I have to applaued the guys at BETA and the sound engineers brought to the show by the bands for managing to create such an amazing sound. As mentioned, I had forgotten my earplugs, but when stationed towards the back of the room the sound was perfect without earplugs, and it was wonderful to experience such freedom while having ones ears invaded with sweet, sweet tunes.

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