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Russian Circles Concert Review

Russian Circles
September 8th, 2016
The Riot Room - Kansas City, MO

Russian Circles. Photo by Jackson May.
Being a band for over ten years is one thing. Being a band for over ten years, putting out six critically acclaimed albums of instrumental post-metal, and touring nonstop? It's almost unheard of - but Russian Circles does it and they showed a packed crowd at The Riot Room on a rainy Thursday night just why they have such longevity and staying power.

Not a group to be held back by conventional music standards, Russian Circles took to the stage amidst looping feedback with a sprawling layout of pedals, switches, and cords at their feet. The three-piece slowly brought the song "Asa" to life. Starting with Explosions In The Sky-esque post-rock guitar noodling, it slowly builds with drum rolls and the bass kicking in until it explodes in riffs that would feel right at home with any heavy hardcore band. The dichotomy of beautiful, flowing post-rock into raucous heavy riffing is what makes Russian Circles so particularly devastating. The performances of older material only mirrored this more intensely. "309" sounded like the best parts of a Baroness track stretched out into nine minutes and the riffing on "Harper Lewis" became almost a mix between Hatebreed and Tool, but it always stayed insurmountably heavy.

Cloakroom. Photo by Jackson May.
The penultimate song of Russian Circles' set, "Mlàdek," showcased the band as more than just guys that wail away on instruments. Guitarist Mike Sullivan had a massive layout of pedals at his feet that he was constantly utilizing to loop his instruments and make Russian Circles sound like much more than just a trio. Bassist Brian Cook also had a crazy amount of pedals, but also utilized something that can only be described as an organ for his guitar -- not to mention an actual sequencer that he played with his pinky while also strumming his bass. Drummer Dave Turncrantz held everything together but still provided the backbone to all the headbanging of the night. The final song of the night, "Youngblood," encompassed everything that's been described of Russian Circles and what makes them so great -- beauty, heaviness, technical prowess, and catchiness. Hopefully Russian Circles will return for many years to come.

The lone opening band of the night was Cloakroom -- a heavy shoegaze trio that at times sounded like Boris when Boris decides to be shoegaze-y. With a heavy bass sound and crushing, fuzzed-out riffs at times, Cloakroom was the perfect appetizer for Russian Circles.

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