Let me start by saying that this is a bit of an unfair review, because I actually (sadly) missed 1/2 of Beastwars’ set because we had doubled booked ourselves for the evening. While NZ’s greatest alt. stoner metal band were tearing up the stage, CDH and I were tearing up with laughter at William Shatner’s one-man show at the Aotea Centre. Shatner was hilarious and quite inspiring, and I am SO glad we got to see him, but it did mean I am probably not an accurate judge of Beastwars set, and I completely missed the opening act, who I am told were quite decent. Normally, I wouldn’t even write a review if I hadn’t been there for the whole show, but I’ve been talking about this concert for months so I wanted to write something about it.
Over the weekend, two of NZ’s most highly-regarded metal/post-rock bands joined together for a show that almost defies classification. Jakob collected the Taite Prize this year for their majestic record Sines, and have been out on the road bringing their aural indulgence to the rest of the world on an European tour. Every album these guys put out gets more sophisticated, more pleasing, and more deeply ingrained in their own unique style. And when they’re joined by the inimitable Beastwars – arguably one of the best bands in the world producing soul-crushingly heavy stoner metal – you know you’re in for a good evening.
I arrived midway through their set. That deep bass hit me before I’d even walked through the door. I walked down to the front but couldn’t find my friends, so just hung out in the middle and enjoyed one of the heaviest bands I’ve ever seen. The band were occasionally visible behind a cloud of smoke, but that doom-laden cacophony they procduced was everywhere. Those riffs that thrill you so completely on their albums are even more intense and visceral live. It was primal, like the cracking open of the earth in a great cataclysmic event. It was also fucking fun.
I got a new shirt, yay!
They weren’t as tight as I was expecting, a bit loose and casual – a good fit for this show in front of a local crowd of long-time fans. I felt a couple of the guitar solos in particular came off a little messy, but much is forgiven of a band that’s this good. Beastwars are heading back into the studio soon to record their third album. This news makes me very happy.
Jakob were the closing act. I listen to Jakob a lot while I’m writing, because they are primarily instrumental, so there are no lyrics about slaying dragons or siring 1000 sons to distract me. I love the way their songs start off faint and then grow and grow into these aching, ponderous moods, before falling away again.
Live … they aren’t much to watch. I’m serious. If you want to see a lot of action, this is not the show to be at. They’re just standing there, playing the songs. There’s some pretty lights and things, but no frontman to really draw you in to the stage. But Jakob live isn’t about seeing, it’s about closing your eyes and losing yourself in that intense, deep music. It can be a bit strange as a metalhead seeing shows in other genres, because you can feel a bit lost as to what to do when there’s nothing to headbang to, but it is worth stepping outside the tried and true to experience something like this.
I thoroughly enjoyed this show, and definitely recommend anyone go along and see either of these bands if they happen to be near you. I definitely would again.
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