On Thursday October 3rd evening I went to KSET to hear Portman promote their new album The Man Who Carries a Light.
As I walked through the door Elephant Stalker started to play.
They are magnificent and I love them to bits.
I first listened to them in Spunk with Rens Argoa and Moraines on 15Jun2013 and I remember being rendered speechless all through their act. I also remember asking Rens Argoa guys how is it possible that we have such treasure within our grasp and that they are still not widely acknowledged and all of us sighing and exchanging familiar glances of complete non-surpriseness.
We are acutely aware of where are we living at, it seems.
And yet, such magnificence exists here to regale us.
Elephant Stalker were great this night also.
As KSET was nicely packed from the very start I chose to watch them from gallery. The sound was excellent and they were in good spirits, frontman jovially spoke to the audience:
“And now we will play one of our songs, from EP available on bandcamp. Whoever knows the words can freely sing with us.*”
There were also some jesters in the audience as I clearly heard someone sing “Na na Naa Na” during one catchy passage.
After a quick breather, Hesperian Death Horse were next.
I did not like this. I did not like this one bit.
I do not know what actually happened but there was a problem with the sound. Quite opposite from Elephant Stalker, sound for HDH was terrible to say the least. It was too loud and it was tuned so just bass sounds were prominent and the rest of sound landscape was muffled nearly into non-existance. It was so unpleasantly loud that I could feel my innards trembling with the bass. I was also surprised by the selection of tastes Elephant Stalker - Hesperian Death Horse - Portman as HDH sounded like something from completely different music book. It was pretty cold evening so I didn’t feel like standing outside but I got as much away as I could, right by the checking room, and it was still too loud and muffled.
When they finished I talked to acquaintance a bit and I shared my concern:
“As I did not listen to them before I’m not sure if this is what they are supposed to sound like but I think this visceral unpleasantness would be really a cheap trick for someone in this musical genre. “
But he chose to answer with sarcasm and condescension on top of blatant disregard of objective parameters and, I shit you not, with:
"I may not know anything about art but I know what I like."**
... so I think this acquaintance phase can only go downhill from here. Sometimes human relations are so simple and easily predictable.
To top this off after I got home I did listen to Hesperian Death Horse album on bandcamp and it seems to me that this was not a cheap trick but sound-setting error as they actually sound great on the album, with varied and bright musical picture and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the album, with no unpleasantness of any kind.
When Portman went on stage sound was again excellent (re-set maybe?) and the frontman was just like I remembered him from Maybeshewill concert in Attack! plus a beard. I frequently remember subtle details about a person’s gait and “feel” they leave on people and pervasive quality (“aura”) they carry with them and I remember this particular mixture of standoffishness and penetration like most particular bouquet, intoxicating and wonderful in its essence, if somewhat somber in nature.
They played excellently and I have already at that time listened to their release about a dozen times (even if it was only released that same morning) and I was sad I had to leave for home after just three songs but my kid had "Bread Day" celebration tomorrow morning and she remembered to tell me she needs freshly baked goods just as I was leaving for concert. So I went home and baked, pleased with the results of both the gig and baking session.
** saying atributed to Orson Welles, btw