Chuck Schuldiner Project

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

OTB Fest 2015 live report (Day 1) (@La Maroquinerie, 29/05/2015)

With Summer right around the corner, our beloved french booking agencies have certainly not been slacking off, as demonstrated with the sheer amount of fantastic gigs and festivals being programmed all throughout the month of may through july. As tradition has had it since the last couple of years, our friends at Old Town Bicyclette hosted yet another festival under their name, returning this year with an eccelctic selection of hefty bands playing over 2 days. Lined up for the first evening of sonic hostilites, Nesseria, Revok and Celeste were here to represent what our French hardcore scene does best before paving the way for the canadian beasts in KEN Mode, who were headlining show for the night.  

Fired up and up to task to jumpstart the energy of the room were a band whose affiliation with Throatruiner records could only foreshadow the level of sonic chaos about to be unloaded. Nesseria's sound is one that is a whirlwind of magnificient and ferocious yet calculated chaos drenched with the thunderous wall of pitch-black black metal. Take the raw energy of a grindcore act and inject some of the majestic, metallic rage of a blackened hardcore band and what you end up with is the sound of Nesseria. This band exemplifies why I make a point to always show up for every opening act on the bill. Thankfully, the bands' set was greeted by a reasonnably packed audience for an early evening. A great opening set of songs and a great show that will hopefully take the band another step closer to the recognition they deserve.

Lined up next to hit the stage were the Parisians in Revok, as evidenced by their simple yet intriguing stage decorations consisting of lightbulbs and lampeshadeless lamps. The band plays a noisy, gritty concoction of hardcore punk combined with the howling vocals and groovy riffs of a sludge metal band. The bands' set consisted of fairly long, elaborate compositions with some mean, clunky and metallic, syncopated riffs complemented with some longwinded passages building up and gradually morphing as the song progressed. One can only admire the bands' audacity when it comes to their use of repetition within some of their songs to create a hypnotic vibe through simple yet groovy and catchy loops; a daring yet well-executed approach that comes to show that repetition can be a great thing if used intelligently. Armed with a crushing, gritty sound and great stage presence, Revok proved their worth and rightfully kept their audience on their toes with a great show.

Next up were Celeste, the blackened hardcore band from Lyon. Now I'm going to go straight to the point and get this out of the way: I fucking love this band, I quite simply see them as one of the most original and interesting bands to come out of France. One only needs to witness one of their live shows to understand why my enthusiasm grows with every opportunity I get to see them. I could barely contain my excitement as I saw the band step on stage right before the lights dimmed out and their 5 red headlamps turned on. The band kicked off with the absolutely crushing intro to "D'Errances en Inimitiés", with their flashing stroboscopes, red headlamps and smoke machines engulfing us completely into the bleak, terrifying vibe of the bands' feral, pitch-black sound. The band then followed things up with "Laissé pour Compte comme un bâtard" and proceeded to deliver a suprisingly well-paced set of songs, with the occasionnal instrumental interludes to space things out and keep their audiences' attention during the bands' suffocating 40 minute journey into the sonic abyss. The sound was downright impeccable all throughout the set, the visual aspect of the show was badass as usual with the lights flashing, red lights swaying up and down as each member headbanged their heads off, and the performance was as airtight as ever. The set flew by in what seemed to be a mere 20 minutes, leaving half of the audience in awe and leaving me with the ever so dire need for more. This was quite possibly the best show I've seen them play so far.

Finally, Canada's favorite noisy hardcore band were up next, pumped up and ready to rip some heads off. Being a fan of the band for quite some time now, I had always wondered what a KEN Mode show was like, with tabloid news about phone-kicking only adding more fuel to my fiery curiosity. After finally getting a chance to see the trio perform live I can safely state that not only were my initial expectations misled but they were also greatly surpassed. It was noisy, it was loud and abrasive as hell without losing a single ounce of detail and clarity. Most importantly of all, KEN Mode is one of the rare live bands who actually live up to their title/name. Seeing a band pour as much raw power and intention into their performance is something one sees all too little these days. Each members' imposing statures and feral performances made for an impressive stage performance. With a seemingly miniature guitar or bass in hand (compared to his buff, colossal stature), Jesse quite simply screamed his lungs out while Skot laid down those thick, loud and intense bass notes that shook you to your core and Shane battered on his kit like a pissed-off lumberjack. Tonights' set obviously made way for a good deal of new songs off the new album, and I was particularly surprised by how well these newer noise-rock tunes blended in with some of the more "metallic" songs from the bands' back catalog, with the more "noise rock" influenced tracks complementing the faster more intense tracks very nicely. 

In conclusion, it didn't take more than the 1st night to make it evidently clear that the festival was a great sucess. With 4 fairly different but complementary bands delivering 4 amazing sets at the top of their game, there isn't much more more you can ask for, can you? You've been warned, you no longer have any excuse to miss out on any of these bands the next time they're in town. For our readers in the US: Celeste will be doing their first US tour alongside Primitive Man from June through July. For our readers in Europe: KEN Mode should be returning for another european tour in the Fall. I repeat: you've been warned.


Thank you to Adrien and the rest of the guys at OTB, to Gunnar of SOM, to Lauren, and to the bandss for making both this amazing show and this interview possible!

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