Beyond The Redshift - Kentish Town, London
Now this is my kind of festival. Beyond The Redshift is spread over three venues in north London (organized by one of the best extreme bands around in the shape of Cult Of Luna) and features a cracking line-up that includes a few exclusives and debuts on these shores. So a quick hop on the train and a day of excellent music awaits me!
As is befitting a festival curated by such a band, we begin with some classic post-rock. Swedes pg.lost very much ease us into the mood with their fragile, lush atmospherics that slowly build not only over each song, but throughout the set too. Once they do lift off, despite pulling out all the clichés, it is a euphoric and uplifting experience.
Syndrome is simply mesmerizing. Playing the full thirty minutes of Now And Forever, Mathieu Vandekerckhove sits there with his guitar and sculpts this extraordinary aural masterpiece. Building and deconstructing these beautifully crafted drones is incredible to see and hear, and in a room as large as The Forum it reverberates around to sound enormous, almost overwhelming.
The enlarged space works similar wonders for Mathieu's primary band Amenra, a bludgeoning assault completely at odds with what transpired before, but no less effective. One of the heaviest bands I have ever witnessed live, they deliver once again with their singular brand of violence in slow motion. Ears ringing and insides mashed, this is quite the experience.
The usual technical gremlins strike Jesu once again, but finally they are able to get their set under way. In all honesty, they are not at their best today as they plod through what is a fine choice of songs, but with little passion. A horribly muddy rumble of a mix doesn't help, though it does largely disguise the fact Justin Broadrick struggles to sing live. The fact The Forum has half the numbers in it by the end of the set speaks volumes.
The Old Wind are in the middle of their first run of live dates, and are absolutely devastating. Formed by Tomas Liljedahl, given that he was formerly of pioneers Breach goes a long way to explain the similarities on show this evening. Unlike the old guard, this is not particularly revolutionary, but there is genuine quality and fire on display here.
Welsh power trio Hark are my first foray into the smallest of today's three venues, the Boston Music Room. Fairless mindless stoner riffing is what they offer, and is reasonable enough background noise as I take advantage of a spare seat, but after a couple of tracks they vaguely blur all into one and fail to distract me from my much-needed cookie.
More equipment issues, this time as Dirk Serries can’t get the laptop working. In this case however it is very much a happy accident as we are instead treated to Dirk and Justin Broadrick creating an entirely improvised half hour set. A gorgeous display of drone artistry from the pair, it is both relaxing and challenging as wave upon wave of noise washes over us. There is the definite sense we are hearing something unique and special here.
Bristol's Thought Forms drift from sparse ambience to crunching psychedelic jams with consumate ease. They don't win many points for originality, but the packed room is testament to their energy and ability to hold the attention of the masses. A part of me does wonder how much that might be to do with the pretty girl playing guitar, but in truth it really shouldn't - they deserve the plaudits entirely on merit.
Few bands throw themselves around with quite as much abandon as sleepmakeswaves, and you know that every ounce of their being is being left up on that stage. Of course they are following the same loud/quiet/loud pattern of the entire post-rock genre, but somehow they manage to do it bigger than most. No matter how frustrated I get at my photos and my camera in this light, they can cheer even me up.
And so at last we come to our curators and headliners, Cult Of Luna. Reuniting with original vocalist Klas Rydberg and performing a special set before they go on hiatus, this promises to be something else... And my word, isn't it just! A set brimming with intensity and emotion, it feels like a monumental release. The lighting is superb, moody and dramatic as it adds to the theatre of the occasion, often silhouetting the band against the banks of dry ice filling the air.
Favourites old and new litter the hundred plus minute set, complete with an appearance from Gaahl of God Seed on 'Ghost Trail'. But it is the end of the set where it goes into overdrive, and this becomes a real "I was there" night. I still maintain 'Dark City, Dead Man' is the finest example of post-anything committed to tape, and tonight's blistering rendition only serves to enhance my standpoint. And then Cult Of Luna follow that up with 'In Awe Of' and finally 'Leave Me Here', prompting the whole of The Forum to go complete crazy, and with good reason. A fantastic festival is wound up with a jaw-dropping performance that will live long in the memories of those were here.