Thursday, March 10, 2011

Caspian Concert Review

Caspian concert on Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at Snug Harbor in Charlotte, NC

So far this year has been a pleasant surprise for concert goers of my type in the NC region.  3 awesome post-rock concerts have/are hitting the southeast in a 4-week span: Caspian, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Explosions in the Sky.    On top of that, Rush has launched a second leg of their Time Machine Tour which is hitting the eastern part of the U.S. starting in late March.  All that, combined with a road trip up to Cleveland to see Agalloch, is making for a damn fine start to 2011.  

I went to this show with two buds, neither of whom cared about seeing Caspian (probably because they've never heard of Caspian, and, I'm not sure they're fond of this genre of music), but both of whom were gladly willing to pay the low price of $8 a ticket to ride down to Charlotte with me and make an evening of it.

The venue was one I'd never been to before, called Snug Harbor. It was tiny. I probably could've sprinted the length of the room in about 2 seconds flat. All the employees looked like pirates. Skull & crossbone flags hung all over the place. Regardless of its size, it was a neat atmosphere. I was worried about a low turnout at first. When we walked in there not long after the doors had opened it was deserted. A few pirates stood around and drunk beer, there were the occasional stragglers at the bar (the type of which were obviously oblivious to whatever music was about to be played), and one woman voiced opposition when I demanded the bar tender change the channel from CNN to the Big East basketball tournament. By the time Caspian took the stage though it had filled in. I'm glad; I wanted Caspian's first show in Charlotte to have a decent turnout. Charlotte's never been the place for much of a post-rock scene.

The opening bands were't very impressive. Chiaroscuro was the more impressive of the two, being bland post-rock. Very little sound variance (everything they played had the same structure: start off soft and melodic and quickly turn into something more heavy and less melodic). They weren't bad bad though. Native was much worse. They were a post-hardcore sounding band with screaming vocals and a bunch of young kids playing instruments. Considering their age, the instruments were all right, but the vocals made the band near unlistenable. I tried to drown them out sitting at the bar watching the Marquette vs West Virginia game.

Caspian took the stage around 11:00pm or so, or maybe a tad later.

Caspian Setlist:

1. Of Foam and Wave

2. Malacoda

3. Moksha

4. Quovis

5. Further Up

6. Further In

7. The Raven

8. Sycamore

I was pretty happy with what they played. Obviously, I've never seen them live before so it's not like I had to worry about seeing repeats. Moksha and Sycamore are two of Caspian's best songs, so I was happy with those. I really would've liked to hear Brombie or Concrescence or Loft or Last Rites though. They had a decent variety of material from all their releases. They didn't play an encore, which I thought was a bit strange. The crowd kept yelling for one after Sycamore, but Philip was like "the bass is broken" and "we don't usually play encores," and so they didn't. It would've been amazing to go out on Brombie or Last Rites. Their sound was great. Beautiful guitar tone - especially for the beginning of Sycamore. The tone catered to their softer material. Concrescence would've sounded amazing. I was standing left of the stage right at the front, so it was all in my face. Very emotional show.

The crowd was pretty decent except for one drunk guy up front who kept thrashing around like he was at a Slayer concert.

Overall though, great performance by Caspian. 

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