Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011 in review - best gigs

That's right, I ain't done with listing things yet. The quantity of great concerts I've been to this year has been almost proportional to the pile of awesome records that have further filled my shelves, and I managed to finally have the live experience with some of my favourite bands ever. So here's the shows I'll remember most fondly from 2011.

All videos by Luana Magalhães and photos by me or her unless otherwise noted.

BEST GIGS OF 2011

1. WINTER
(during Roadburn Festival / @ 013, Tilburg, Holland / Apr 15th)
One of the most defining and important bands in my life, that I had never even considered possible seeing live. I was in complete disbelief when they were announced for my favourite festival, and I could barely move during the minimalist, suffocating performance. It was exactly how I imagined them - looking like regular guys, barely moving, just laying down the doom horror exactly as we've known it for over 20 years now. Unforgettable.


(video by kkpgijsbers)

2. SWANS
(@ Aula Magna, Lisboa, Portugal / Apr 9th and during Roadburn Festival / @ 013, Tilburg, Holland / Apr 16th)
Swans have for me the same importance as Winter and I had established the same resignation at never seeing them live before Michael Gira reactivated the band, so two obliterating performances in 7 days were almost overkill. One of the most intense musical experiences you can ever have.


3. TODAY IS THE DAY
(during Roadburn Festival / @ 013, Tilburg, Holland / Apr 14th and during SWR Festival / @ Barroselas, Portugal / May 1st)
It was inevitable that the band responsible for my album of the year would show the same kind of form on stage, and so they did. On both these occasions they rose high above the very high standards of the two festivals and showed they're going through one of the best, if not the best, periods of their entire career.


4. TRAP THEM
(during Roadburn Festival / @ 013, Tilburg, Holland / Apr 14th)
They raised a moshpit at Roadburn! That along is testament to the way Trap Them can bring the hellish chaos of their records to the stage, but here's the super-heavy 'Scars Allign' to convince you.


5. GODFLESH
(during Roadburn Festival / @ 013, Tilburg, Holland / Apr 15th and during Amplifest / @ Hard Club, Porto, Portugal / Oct 30th)
It's been the year of the "finally!", and those dream fulfilments came in copious amounts. Again, an esssential band in my musical upbringing and again two shows in the same year - a 'Streetcleaner'+'Tiny Tears' special at Roadburn and a slightly more varied set at Amplifest, but both of them as crushing as only Godflesh can be.


6. BLACK SUN
(during Seven Churches Festival / @ The Fighting Cocks, London, UK / Jun 25th)
"Do you like AC/DC? Do you know 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap'?," Black Sun's Russell McEwan asked me a couple of hours before this show. "Who doesn't?" I offered as reply to both questions. Then he asked if I wanted to sing it with them, which I politely denied. No one's ever done a crime heinous enough to warrant hearing me sing as a punishment. Unfortunately, between that moment and the time of the show, I had a few alcoholic incidents, and then all hell broke loose.

(photo by Antony Roberts)

7. SCOTT KELLY
(with Orthodox / @ Santiago Alquimista, Lisboa, Portugal / Mar 7th)
I spoke at length of this show here.


8. SÓLSTAFIR
(during Eistnaflug / @ Egilsbúð, Neskaupstaður, Iceland / Jul 7th)
Sólstafir, playing in their home country, in front of a fjord, performing songs from the then-unreleased 'Svartir Sandar', before an enraptured audience. Oh yes.

(video by karlhr)

9. DEATH IN JUNE
(with Die Weisse Rose / @ Casa de Lafões, Lisboa, Portugal / Oct 15th)
Douglas Pearce alone with a drum and an acoustic guitar (and that creepy mask that he took off after one song) is able to create one of the thickest, most enveloping atmospheres I've ever witnessed at a show. The renditions of the songs from 'But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?' were particularly harrowing.



10. MENACE RUINE
(during Roadburn Festival / @ 013, Tilburg, Holland / Apr 15th and during SWR Festival / @ Barroselas, Portugal / Apr 29th)
The Canadian duo must be used to performing in front of bewildered audiences, which happened on the SWR date, but for those in sync with their art, a Menace Ruine concert becomes almost ritualistic. Even with a nagging amp failure at Roadburn, they reproduced the best songs of their albums faithfully and with extreme passion.


11. TRIPTYKON
(during Eistnaflug / @ Egilsbúð, Neskaupstaður, Iceland / Jul 9th)Text
It's great to see Tom G. Warrior enjoying himself. Triptykon live shows are a mix between a cracking new band playing their very best songs and a Celtic Frost best-of, almost as a celebration of the great man's enduring, timeless talent.


12. GHOST
(during Roadburn Festival / @ 013, Tilburg, Holland / Apr 15th)
There's a lot of hatred for Ghost, but come on, people. Lighten up. The songs are solid and catchy, their image is well constructed and much more than just a gimmick and, above all, it's great fun. And if you think they're not a serious band, then you probably need to see them live. This show was a revelation for me, and they more than lived up to their theatrics - a tight, strong band, making the songs have even more impact than the album versions.

(video by kkpgijsbers)

13. COFFINS
(during Roadburn Afterburner / @ 013, Tilburg, Holland / Apr 17th)
The look on vocalist/guitarist Uchino's face when he saw the huge projection of the Coffins logo on the 013's main stage, right at the start of the gig, really says everything about this show. The Japanese band seemed as happy to be on stage as us old-school death metallers were about their presence on the Roadburn Afterburner event. The crusty, cavernous filth they spewed forth for almost an hour was exactly what the day needed.



14. BLACK MATH HORSEMAN
(during Roadburn Festival / @ 013, Tilburg, Holland / Apr 16th)
Candlemass were playing and I still abandoned their epic gig for 45 minutes or so because Black Math Horseman are simply unmissable. The dark siren-like chants of Tera Simms weave around Bryan Tulao's huge riffs for an enchanting experience.


15. MAGRUDERGRIND
(during SWR Festival / @ Barroselas, Portugal / May 1st)
An epic show of savagery, nothing more, nothing less. These guys tap into some primal inner source of rage and everyone in the audience seemingly just wants to start slapping each other hard. Even their encore, nearly forced by that enraged audience, was pissed off.


16. UNDERSMILE
(during Seven Churches Festival / @ The Fighting Cocks, London, UK / Jun 25th)
I've talked about them often, they're one of my favourite new bands from Europe, and this was my moment of discovery.


17. YEAR OF NO LIGHT
(during Roadburn Festival / @ Midi Theater, Tilburg, Holland / Apr 16th)
I'm not a big fan of Year Of No Light sans former vocalist Julien Perez, I must admit with some sadness, but this show was special - the band played a full soundtrack, of their own writing, to the classic expressionist horror film Vampyr, and it was terrifyingly awesome.


18. THE SECRET
(during Roadburn Festival / @ 013, Tilburg, Holland / Apr 14th)
Read the Trap Them description and apply to the smaller room of the 013. Immense fury.



19. YOB
(with Dark Castle and Kongh / @ Hard Club, Porto, Portugal / Oct 6th)
Not only YOB, but all three bands in the bill put on remarkably heavy, unrestrained performances this night. I traveled 300km to see them and it was worth every hour on the road, as YOB keep their permanent evolution with, this time, a grainier, colossal sound. And Mike is still one of the nicest people in the world.


20. SKEPTICISM
(during Bracara Extreme Fest / @ CC Braga Viva, Braga, Portugal / Dec 10th)
Dooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom.
That is all. Or you can read the festival review.

(shitty video made by my iPhone, and yes, those are my fingers)

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