I’ve been spending the better part of the last twelve hours trying to figure out how to write this review. Every now and then something happens to you that changes the way you look at things, or at least things within a particular category. Last night changed the way I look at progressive music and concerts because of a poor group of young men from Boston called Sparrows Swarm and Sing. More is to come when I get to that part of my review, this has been intro.
There was of course a traditional pre-concert ritual consisting of metal on iTunes, metal DVDs, minimal amounts of Taco Bell, and Mountain Dew. CoS came over and drove his brother and myself to the venue, a basement under a downtown business in our city of Troy, and we met up with our friend once we got there. The pre-show festivities taking place outside of the venue worried me. There were large quantities of emos playing with hackey-sacks. Fortunately, when they realized the music wasn’t going to be gay, they left.
We went to the basement where we met up with Doug, my good friend and bassist of Kenoma. There was merch for sale, and before the show I picked up a killer Rune- The End of Nothing
shirt for just $5. The first band went on without introducing themselves, and we thought they were Sparrows Swarm and Sing, which led us to think Sparrows Swarm and Sing sucked balls. They were actually called Romance of Young Tigers, and they made whale noises with guitars. Thirty minutes of ambient bullshit later, we went outside for some air. That basement was 540,000 fucking degrees Fahrenheit. Upon our return Sparrows Swarm and Sing were setting up.
Disclaimer: Don’t tell me to take their cock out of my mouth after you read this, you haven’t seen or heard them. Even if you’ve heard them, that isn’t the same as seeing them, so fuck off.
Six men hit the stage, two with guitars, one with a bass, two behind drum kits, and one with a cello. Already the configuration of this band was strange, but little did I know what lay ahead. Throughout their forty minute set, they did bizarrely fantastic things. Just some of the instruments they used that I haven’t mentioned: xylophones, violins, PVC pipes, rafters in the basement, and frying pans. Except it wasn’t like Stomp! at all. It was just incredible unclassifiable music. Not only that, handclaps and vocals were used very instrumentally as well. And I said this last night and upon listening to the full-length, I don’t take it back at all: this was a spiritual experience. I watched the boundaries of progressive music transcended by measureless creativity. My knees went weak with astonishment throughout their set, and I didn’t hesitate to compare seeing this live to the first time I listened to Operation: Mindcrime. A spiritual fucking experience. The setlist was as follows:
Selections from O’ Shenandoah, Mighty Death Will Find Me
That’s right, they actually wove a forty minute medley from their full-length record. There weren’t breaks or pauses. They got more applause than I knew was possible from seventy-five spectators, and earned every bit of it. I went to talk to them after the show. And bought a poster, sticker, and of course, their aforementioned full-length, which I haven’t turned off all morning. Here is a list of their tour dates that remain. If you live even remotely close to any of these, DO NOT HESITATE TO GO SEE THEM!
Aug 20 2006 8:00P 15th house Columbus, OH
Aug 21 2006 8:00P Modern Formations Gallery Pittsburgh, PA
Aug 22 2006 8:00P The AV space Rochester, NY
Aug 23 2006 8:00P he Spark Syracuse, NY
Aug 24 2006 8:00P Mercy House Church Amherst, MA
Aug 25 2006 5:00P Play room - MUSOMANIA 2006 Winsted, CT
Aug 26 2006 6:00P The Lily Pad Cambridge
Finally came the band who I was really there to see, Kenoma. They impressed as always, playing their brand of instrumental experimental progressive music with a truly metal edge (three of the members were in Rune), riffing when they’re supposed to be freewheeling, headbanging when they’re supposed to be chilling out. It’s a unique live show to say the least, and even though they confided in me that it would be impossible to follow Sparrows Swarm and Sing, I told them they did a damn good job. What has been my favorite song for the last few weeks, live staple "1913", went over incredibly well. One of the guitarists was a little on the drunk side, but Doug turned up his bass amp and compensated for the sloppiness from stage left and played better than I’ve ever seen him play. Pictures should follow soon. Here is Kenoma’s setlist:
By Way of Sun Storm
Did I rant enough?
Great fucking show.