Russian Circles

support Cloakroom
author LF date 22/02/17 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

While Russian Circles have never been one of my very favorite bands, they have kept me interested enough lately that this is my third time seeing them in just as many years. Third time is the charm and all that, and tonight also ends up being my favorite of the three shows so far. Even though it is a late show, starting with support at 10 p.m., a nice amount of people has gathered when the first creeping notes of live music make their way from the stage.

All pictures by Peter Troest


Cloakroom is a trio from Indiana whom I have only heard of before in passing. For this show, however, I've had an occasion to get to know them a little better and they have quite an interesting sound. Earlier, they have apparently described themselves as "stoner emo" which is not far off really. The drums and bass rumble away underneath some slightly quivering, emotive vocals and strong guitar leads, creating a mesh of a 90's noise/indie/emo sound mixed with dreamy shoegaze as well as stoner rock. Bathed in a blue light, we see the band mostly as silhouettes tonight, sometimes lit up by violet front lights. This fits well into the floaty soundscape they create on stage that lets the listener dream away while still encouraging us with firm beats to bop our heads unconsciously all the while we're transported slightly out of our bodies. It's a good set that makes the slow and sometimes crushing rhythm fit perfectly with the more atmospheric parts of their music. They'll have a new album out later in 2017 and I'm definitely going to be looking out for that!


Russian Circles

Also a trio, Russian Circles from Chicago, IL ease us into their set tonight with the light and dreamy "Asa" from their latest album "Guidance" that they released last year. The calm doesn't last for long though as they build into the crushing highlight, "Vorel", from that same album. The head-bopping from earlier in the evening has quickly turned into more decisive head-banging all around as the music turns heavier with this group's loud and majestic compositions. One of my personal favorites, the more melodious and swelling "Afrika", makes an appearance midway through the set but in this live setting, the crushing weight of the music comes through much more clearly than the more spacious guitar melodies that do stick out in some of the songs. Because of that, "Afrika" doesn't stand apart from the other songs as much as I would have liked. Now, however, we really feel the music in our bodies in contrast to the primarily atmospheric dreaminess from before.

White lights beam out from behind the band, creating a hypnotic world to go with their intense music and the audience is captivated and engaged, yelling out during the build-ups in anticipation of the heavy riffs that come next. Usually, when I have seen Russian Circles before, I've had a hard time with the dynamics across the setlist, with the heavy, chugging guitar parts of a major part of the songs sounding a little too similar for me to stay engaged throughout. Maybe tonight I have just reached a perfect affinity for the band's material because I find the setlist varied enough that I enjoy myself so much I end up staying to the very end even though it is way late and I have been sick and tired for a couple of days. A song like "309" for instance picks up the pace in the first half of the set and leaves a great impression while the somewhat lighter "Harper Lewis" and "1777" add breathing space and variation in between the heavier songs later on. After the planned setlist, the band is clapped back out for an encore of which I am not entirely sure, but it might have been "Youngblood". All in all, this show has definitely been my best experience so far with Russian Circles, despite my wish for a little more space for some of the melodies in the soundscape.


Tentative setlist:

  • 1. Asa
  • 2. Vorel
  • 3. Deficit
  • 4. 309
  • 5. Afrika
  • 6. Harper Lewis
  • 7. 1777
  • 8. Mota
  • 9. Mlàdek

- Encore

  • 10. Youngblood

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