PUBLISHED: sEPTEMBER 30 2013
The Opera House hosted the calmest metal show conceivable on the 18th of September 2013 with co-headliners Anathema and Alcest. The tone of the night was set with the opening act, Mamiffer who played an ethereal sounding set. I'm sure I'm not the only one who spent their entire set trying to figure out their songs. It was hard to tell where one song ended and the next began which put a pause to the applause but, all in all, they kept their audience's attention as we tried to decipher their performance.The duo, Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner, use a series of sounds on a mixer combined with a bit of keyboards, guitars and vocals. Imagine Sigur Rós with even less traditional song structures. Turner even used a bow to play the electric guitar, something which Sigur Rós tends to do at live shows. Mamiffer has an otherworldly sound that soothes the listener with repetitive or long drawn out noises and effects. Coloccia's angelic vocals made up for the loud ringing or scratchy effects in some songs. Mamiffer kept their set short and sweet, allowing Anathema and Alcest to play over an hour set each.
The French band Alcest kicked the ambiance up a bit whilst being a good go between for Mamiffer and Anathema. Though Alcest formerly played black metal they now lean towards a softer sound and soothing vocals with the scarce heavy drum beat and growl. They opened with the mellow single "Autre Temps" and moved into the slightly heavier "Là Où Naissent les Couleurs Nouvelles" much to the crowds' enjoyment. This last track featured a taste of vocalist Stéphane "Neige" Paut's black metal growls but he mostly sang in a soft voice that makes you want him singing sweet nothings in your ear. I really enjoyed the uplifting sound with a heavier undertone that Alcest has. It's like Happy Metal!
The good thing about relaxed shows is that you can get close enough to stare up at the performers at an awkwardly close distance while using the stage as your personal desk without the worries of being kicked in the face. Though many fans were eager to hear bits of Anathema's older and heavier material, they mostly stuck to their post doom metal albums. Either way Anathema got the entire Opera House singing along to all their songs and jumping on command.
Opening with "Untouchable Part I" and "Untouchable Part II," Anathema set off the night with mellow songs leaning more towards their alt-rockish sound. Vocalist/Guitarist Vince Cavanagh reminded me a lot of The Cure's Robert Smith with his lock of shaggy hair over his face, and his emotive voice. Cavanagh expresses each song with his whole body and keeps his voice steady through energetic strumming that ended up in a broken guitar string. Both him and older brother/guitarist Danny Cavanagh occasionally switched their guitars for keyboards and paired up their voices with the angelic harmonies and back-up vocals of Lee Douglas.
Anathema's set was mostly relaxed and slow paced but the fierce drums gave their sound a punch that got fans moving. Near the end of Anathema's set fans went wild with their more fast paced tracks such as "Deep," "Fragile Dreams" and the second half of "Closer." It was a calm night indeed but energy wasn't lacking amongst fans as they competed to grab the performers' attention. One lucky fan was even rewarded with a guitar pic and a photo with vocalist Vince Cavanagh which he jumped up to sit on the edge of the stage to obtain.