Suuns - Prince Albert, Brighton 04/12/12
To have just one band that just sticks in your memory and summarises the experience of an entire festival can only mean one of two things; either the rest of the event wasn’t so hot, or that band in question were such a discovery, and such an astounding surprise that not much else of those three days even registers in the mind. That festival was The Great Escape 2011 and the band in question was the Montreal's Suuns.
Back then they'd just released their debut album, and tonight that band return to Brighton just before their appearance at The National curated ATP this weekend preceding the release of their second album Images Du Futur in March next year. So it's unsurprising that demand was high and tonight's gig was sold out well in advance of the show, though I'm sure they could have filled a venue far larger.
From the very start it's an intense performance; Suuns are a band so connected to their own music that it is evident from just a quick glance in their eyes that mentally they are miles away elsewhere. There is little talking between tracks, all faces are of stern concentration and all eyes are narrowed or closed. Singer Ben Shemie grimaces, and spits out words in an almost sinister manner, with more emotional intensity than could ever be portrayed on record. He's not the only facial contortionist on-stage either, as competing brow furrowing is mirrored behind him from drummer Liam O'Neill.
I'm probably unintentionally painting a picture of a band who appear to be suffering some severe constipation issues, but this is no more as unsettling as their music. Though the record is heavy on the electronica, in the live arena it's more jam-based with the guitars taking the lead while backed by drums and a keyboard. Suuns are a band that are all about control even when the songs break out the riffs and shreds whilst Ben snarls down the microphone, they can still restrain their instruments and be aware of where they are going.
It is this extreme control, alongside the complex textures, and strong dissonance that strings the tension through each track. It grips the listener and holds them in a hypnotic trance; the proof is the sea of nodding heads from the audience that never stopped, always constant whilst the rest of the bodies are held still in a trance-like state even through the jerkier songs like 'Marauder'.
Whilst some new tracks were played, most material originated from debut Zeroes GC, notably 'Arena' being the crowd favourite which pulsed through the room like a steady raised heartbeat accompanied by cheers from the crowd whilst increasing the speed of those nodding heads.
I hope Suuns don't leave as long before they visit Brighton again, it's clear they have a strong fanbase here after tonight's gig. A taster of material from the new album has left us all longing for more, March cannot come quick enough!
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