Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kylesa 19/6/2013

So, I saw Kylesa last night at the Rock n Roll Hotel in Washington DC. I'll talk more about the show and band in a moment, but, as this was my first time at the venue, I'd like to mention that it's a horrible place for a rocknroll show. They divvied up the space such that the performance area could comfortably house about 200 people, when it could have handled 500, and the logic of putting large glass mirrors on the walls utterly defies me. However, as a bar and grill, the design would be genius, and there was a perfectly placed bar, and the upstairs "cafe" area would make for a great break from the bar to grab a burger- except the paucity of seating. I'd call it maybe a dozen seats in the whole place. Wish I ran the joint, I bet I could make it functional as both a concert venue and a bar& grill, at minimal expense.
Next, I want to talk about the crowd. I'm glad I wore a black shirt instead of the plaid I was going to wear: I got the distinct impression I had stepped into my demographic. There were a dozen guys with short hair, beard, chunky glasses, and plaid shirts. At least six of them, judging by hairline and colour were comparable in age to me. The good news was that there were a lot more girls than I remember at a metal show. I'd put them at about 30%. That many girls is always a good sign for a show.

So, I had to work, so I missed two of the four bands, but, really, I was just there for Kylesa. Still, I have to say, I saw Blood Ceremony, and that's just about 100% not my thing.  Twice I considered leaving even though I'd come from an hour and a half away, and overpaid for parking, and hadn't seen Kylesa, nor the merch booth yet. I don't like flutes, ever. I don't like monoharmonic monotone guitar/bass lines. I hate both Jethro Tull and Uriah Heep. Blood Ceremony is nothing new to fans of that, so I don't see the point there, either. I don't like religion for its own sake- I mean to say- you can believe whatever you like, as devoutly as you wish but those beliefs have no place in art unless they serve as either metaphor or guide. Artlessly describing and/or naming your rituals seems useless to me. I don't care if you worship the same as me or not ( in Blood Ceremony's case, they're clearly on the Satanic tip, but with a strong dose of neo-druidism) tell me what it means to you, not what it is.
But I endured, and stayed through Kylesa. Some of what I'll say about Kylesa will seem like a back-handed compliment. I'm sorry about that, it's just that Kylesa are different from anything else I listen to, and my language is awkward when it comes to something so far off from my usual patch.See, where most of what I like is about warmth, and communication, and exploration, Kylesa is cool, and mysterious, and impenetrability. They make music like some mountain dwelling mystic- you'll never truly fathom what they're doing, but you might enjoy the insight you glean from your reaction. As such, the presentation is opaque, with a multi layered psychedelic light show obscuring the band. The most stage banter you'll get is "Thank you for coming to see us". So, if you're there for a rocknroll show, you'd be better off playing the CD while drinking beer with your friends.
But despite being as distant as statues, they were really there, and as musicians they're melodic and innovative. Laura, in particular, seems to have a clear middle path charted between retro late 1970's metal, and mid 1990's indie rock- which would be grunge, but, in her hands it's neither Suzi Gardner, nor Lita Ford. More like J Mascis meets Bruce Franklin.

Technically, though, I think it's Phillip Cope's band and he stayed behind his wall of electronics and guitars the whole show . By the way, that really is a skateboard turned into a synth. 

So, was it a good show? I don't think I'd call it a show, it was more of a performance. They performed their music, much like you'd perform surgery, or perform a spell. Towards the end, there were some abortive attempts at a mosh pit, but it was kind of like trying to dance at a recital- it just seemed wrong. The proper response would seem to be more cerebral. Anyway, here's the rest of the photos. They aren't very good, because the light show mixed with incessant headbanging just didn't bode well for focus...

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