Last weekend I got to see Suuns at Death By Audio, along with three local gems, Azar Swan, Bennio Qwerty and FLAG. Unsurprisingly, the night was filled with heavy basslines, intense vocals, and an indescribable energy that extended to all of the genre transcending acts of the night.
Ben Shemie (vocals/guitar), Joe Yarmush (guitar/bass), Liam O’Neill (drums) and Max Henry (bass/keyboard) make up the Montreal-based progressive rock band Suuns, who introduced the world to their industrial, progressive, experimental rock sounds with their debut album, Zeroes (2010). With the release of their sophomore album, Images Du Futur in 2013, Suuns solidified the sounds that they began to develop on Zeroes while at the same time pushing their compositional capabilities to the next level.
Images Du Futur has been both hailed and criticized for being more organized, refined and compositional than Zeroes. The music may be slightly more accessible and compositional, yet it still favors chaos over order, discordance over melody, and haphazardness over caution. Shemie’s vocals are as just as mumbling and incoherent as ever, feedback and effects still feature prominently, and the backbeats still blend and interact perfectly with Yarmush’s guitar to command the attention of anyone listening.
I must say that Suuns is one of those bands that sounds 100 times better live than in the recording studio. This may have something to do with their enthusiastic followers, who packed into the tiny space of South Williamsburg’s Death By Audio, but probably has more to do with the band’s persona. From the lackadaisical vocals to the persisting, beats, Suuns somehow straddle the space between obsessive intensity and just not giving a fuck. This sentiment was somehow extended to the crowd, which by the end of the night had increased exponentially in volume, but decreased exponentially in sobriety. While the music pulsating out of the speakers was turned up to an impossibly loud volume, Shernie, Yarmush, O’Neill and Henry maintained their cool, playing their instruments as casually as they would brush their teeth, or cook an omelette. This all culminated in a type of intensely fervent energy, a quality that has unfortunately become increasingly rare for many live performances.
Rolling through a number of songs off of Images du Futur and a handful off of Zeroes, the Montreal-based quartet laced their show with their signature grating guitar riffs, unrelenting beats and unsettling vocal effects. The spaces in between the songs were just as important as the songs themselves were as one morphed into the other. Sometimes this would happen seamlessly, however often the band would navigate their way into a new song through rambling beats, feedback and discordant melodies. From their first note to their last, there wasn’t a single moment of silence throughout the performance.
Industrial electro pop duo, Azar Swan consists of Zohra Atash (vocals/lyrics) and Joshua Strawn (production/percussion). With heavy, dark beats and moody vocals, the Brooklyn based project isn’t exactly light music. Their debut album, Dance Before The War, consists of textured vocals, a-typical instrumentation, compact arrangements, and a general doomy and gloomy vibe that permeates the entire album.
Joshua Strawn entered the stage decked out in all black. Zohra Atash was also in black, save the red polish and blond streak in her hair. Together they stormed the stage, turning up the intensity in the room with Strawn’s unrelenting percussion and Atash’s piercing, theatrical, almost operatic pop/goth vocals. Azar Swan had almost as many fans come out as Suuns did, which was made apparent when most of the audience sang along during their most well-known track, “Lusty.”
local favorite Bennio Qwerty consists of Mike Barron, Nathan Delffs and Louie Glaser. Bennio Qwerty has been releasing music for about a year now, mainly punk melodies and arrangements with late ’90s/early ‘00s post grunge alt rock guitar riffs. Although most of the crowd was new to Bennio Qwerty’s music, the band maintained the crowd’s interest with catchy, upbeat melodies.
Who needs a band when you can do everything yourself?- is probably the mantra of the one man band, FLAG, who needed nothing more than his guitar, his voice, and a music sampler. The first of the night to perform, FLAG set up and performed in the space between the crowd and the stage for a select group of early birds.
While the evening’s various performances drew from a wide range of genres, heavy basslines ran throughout all of the acts involved. The night was subsequently eventful and energizing, to say the least.