The lineup shifts, but Alcest is basically Stéphane Paut, aka Neige, by his lonesome. Live, the project expands to a lush quartet. Last night at the Studio @ Webster Hall — a show presented by Haunting The Chapel and The Blackened Music Series — Neige lost his voice, leaving it up to guitarist/backing vocalist Zero to become the ad hoc frontman. It worked. At this point I know the material well enough to fill in live blanks: 2007’s Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde is an album I still return to weekly and I’ve had Écailles De Lune on heavy rotation for the past couple of months. That, and the increased instrumental passages added an especial dreaminess to the proceedings. More than that: Having the infamously press-shy Neige relegated to the role of “guitarist lost in the exhaust of a smoke machine” seemed beautifully fitting for the French band’s first ever New York City show. (You know, fuck spotlights.)
He’s said the project was inititally based on visions he had as a child of “an indescribably beautiful place where everything – trees, glades, and brooks – produces a pearly light and where a faraway and celestial music floats in the air like a perfume.” By not opening his mouth on stage, he managed to keep that place his own. (Adding to that sort of weird magic, a stray cat/club cat wandered around the stage and their feet during their set…)
Before Alcest, young-gun Philadelphia black metal crew (and recent Candlelight signees) woe tore through an amazingly acrobatic, heavy, tight set of their punk-inflected death-of-man anthems. I hosted a show with them (and Krieg, Malkuth, Liturgy) last March during a freak snowstorm — great seeing them play to a packed room, clearly at the height of their powers. Their black metal elders should watch their backs. Connecticut low-tech, Death In June-clad post-industrial boys-next-door Have A Nice Life performed their third live set ever. I’m a fan of their Deathconsciousness and was curious to see how it worked live. Basically, an engaging mix of awkward, charismatic, and straight-up lighter-hoisting anthemic (see “Bloodhail”). If you missed the show/want to relive the moment(s), take a look at Justina Villanueva’s photos and skim Alcest’s setlist.
“Ecailles De Lune (Part I)”
“Sur L’OcÇan Couleur De Fer”
“Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde”
“Percées De Lumière”