Chicago welcomed Alcest with open arms and proper head banging to one of their coolest, small historic venues in the Windy City.
For some in the metal world, the idea of a shoegaze metal subgenre is dismissed as “not metal at all.” Narrowly defined subgenres end up being mostly useless due to this kind of response. The French band Alcest (Prophecy Productions) is the type of shoegaze metal you’d want to investigate if you’re serious about the genre. Embarking on a headlining tour in support of their latest release, Shelter, Alcest doesn’t play the kind of metal everyone gets. But their music has the eerie ability to get under your skin when it grabs you.
Choosing to listen to Alcest is a very deliberate choice. All their lyrics are in French. However, it becomes very apparent during a gig that the fans who don’t speak the language don’t care. From the moment the opening song begins, a warm wave of cacophonous bliss enshrouds the audience and the sonic trip began.
Their music is as mysterious as the names of band members. Neige (lead vocals, guitar) and Winterhalter (drums) are joined on stage by Zero (guitar) and Indira (bass) to create a perfect ensemble. The group delivers the band’s particular brand of music flawlessly and soulfully. It is rare to see a complete symbiosis of sound, intent, fans, and venue. When it happens, it was best for this photographer to put the camera down and soak it in as much as possible.
Chicago’s Subterranean is a historical building with a dark, somber attitude hearkening back to a time when opulence and atmosphere meant something. From the center chandelier to people peering over the upstairs banister, the venue couldn’t have been any more perfect for such a beautiful band. If you’re looking for some new music to sell your soul to, Alcest continues their US tour through the very apropos month of October.
Supporting Alcest on their headline tour was Emma Ruth Rundle, a talented singer-songwriter with a set of pipes reminiscent of lingering songstresses from the 80s and 90s like The Cranes, Cocteau Twins, and Mazzy Star. Rundle’s music is a fascinating mix of modern folk with a soothing haunting element that gives off a wonderfully spooky and eclectic vibe. Touring for her debut solo studio album, Some Heavy Ocean, her music evokes a very specific kind of emotion while suspending itself in a delightful David Lynch dreamland.
Alcest Setlist: Opale, Summer’s Glory, Ecailles De Lune-Part 1, Les Iris, Souvenirs d’un autre monde, L’eviel des musees, La ou naissent les couleurs nouvelles, Sur l’ocean couleur de fer, Percees De Lumiere, Autre Temps, Deliverance.
Emma Ruth Rundle