Conan

support Un + Sixes
author TK date 28/10/19 venue Lille VEGA, Copenhagen, DEN

For the umpteenth time since moving to Copenhagen 20 years ago, I make my way toward one of my favorite venues in Copenhagen: Lille VEGA. We are greeted by the always friendly and helpful staff and make our way up the stairs as the first support act Sixes kick off a little earlier than the 7:30 p.m. start promised on Facebook.

Main photo courtesy of Jacob Dinesen / Devilution.dk

Sixes

This quartet from Southern California starts with the 12-minute long track “Mephistopheles” and by its drone-like intro I am immediately reminded that my ears (and my mind, for that matter) still haven’t fully recuperated from the past Monday’s Sunn O))) concert. But this is no mere drone track, nor are Sixes a drone band. What they are, will only become fully evident when their all-too-short show is over a mere 30 minutes later.

So, what are Sixes? They refer to themselves as doom band but there is so much more to them. In every one of the five songs played tonight in this set, they effortlessly play doom, sludge, punk, screamo, straight up rock, drone and probably many more genres that I am unable to identify. The second track of the night, “Fogbreather” starts off as a very heavy doom piece, with the bare-chested front man Stephen Cummings barreling all over the tiny stage when is not screaming, singing or growling. Front and center bass player Zander Reddis cuts a stoic, almost statuesque figure while hammering away on both strings and the body of her bass. Drummer Paul Vargas is banging away like there is no tomorrow, and this small rhythm section strikes me as a very tight unit that counterpoints the antics of Cummings (Cummings is a guy who seems really hopped up on his own music and there is nothing funny about it), who is often standing with his back to the crowd creating feedback in front of the speakers when not looking like he is a 17-year-old kid in punk band, with his low-slung guitar and fuck-you attitude. Second guitarist Hannes Bogacs is not the wild man Cummings is but he does move around, too, and creates his fair share of feedback when he is not either shredding on his guitar or laying down some heavy doom/sludge rifts. I am sure some people will find it confusing, even somewhat schizophrenic. But I, for my part, find this stuff compelling and really interesting and can’t help ending up transfixed by all that is going on.

After the excellent “Fogbreather”, the band moves quickly onto “Cross to Burn”, which, at times, sounds like a Crowbar bar song, and eight seconds later it no longer sounds anything like a Crowbar song (for the record, I am a huge Crowbar fan, so I love it). The Final song of this set is the as-of-yet unreleased “Misery Hag”, which provides the perfect bookend to a flawless show when it comes to songs and performance. I would definitely put on my travelling pants to see Sixes again (hopefully with a longer set next time), and my friend and I turn to each other and agree that this performance alone is well worth the price of admission tonight. This is going to be hard to top tonight.

Un

Un is virgin territory for me, but I am loving the intro to “In Its Absence”, their first song of the night. It is reminiscent of many a post-rock/post-metal band, starting off slowly and then suddenly becoming really heavy. It might be loud and heavy, but it is also slow and sludge-like at the same time. To the unsuspecting listener, I would imagine that it is a shock when guitarist and singer Monte Mccleery starts growling over the beautiful soundscape laid out by the guitarists over the typical funeral doom-heavy bass line and drumming. The tracks are really long but extremely varied. I have seen funeral doom bands that only do one thing and there is nothing wrong with that, but Un are not content to be just a funeral doom band. Sometimes the interludes between Monte’s singing are so long you might as well be watching a post-metal band, and the solos remind me more of progressive rock than anything. When I say that the tracks are long, I mean really long. Actually, you might not notice it if you, like me, are unfamiliar with their work, but they actually only end up playing two songs in total: the opener “In Its Absence” and the subsequent “A Garden Where Nothing Grows”, both off their sophomoric album “Sentiment”, which, by the way, is a great album that I highly recommend checking out.

Conan

Sadly, not many more people have turned up by the time Conan takes the stage. It is almost a déjà vu of Eyehategod a few weeks ago, though there might be ten more people here for this one. And if confusion reigned during the supporting bands as to what genre they were actually playing, there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever about what you are getting with Conan. It is loud (though not as loud as their last show in Copenhagen in the much smaller venue Stengade), bass-heavy and it is… constant, I guess, is the word I am looking for. Relentless, would be another word to describe Conan, as the onslaught just never lets up. There are no quiet build-ups or slow interludes — there is just Conan. On paper this makes it sound boring and perhaps somewhat uncomplicated, but it is anything but. There is so much going on all the time from all three members of the band, and you can hear everything that goes on between these hard-working musicians. At times the higher-pitched vocals seem to disappear out of the mix, but even this feels intentional.

The band kicks off with “Total Conquest”, which is a real mood setter. And from there on out, they go through some of their finest tracks, including “Prosper on Path”, “Hate Song”, “Satsumo Battle”, “Volt Thrower”, and perennial fan favorite “Hawk as Weapon”, which is also one of my favorite Conan songs — but really there isn’t a single bad song included in this ten-track set. NOT ONE! Jon Davies is not your typical doom/sludge vocalist, with his rather high-pitched growling vocals but damn, does he make it work and Chris Fielding wielding his bass is a joy to behold as he is jumping around, sweating all over the stage while occasionally stepping up to lend supporting vocals or sing lead. Behind the cans, Johnny King is proving a calm presence amidst the screaming, guitar solos and constant bass.

Conan gets a 9 out 10 for this performance but the night, as a whole gets a 10/10. Two great bands I didn’t know, one awesome band I do know and love doing what they do best, playing in one of the city’s finest venues, and the good company of my friend make it so. If only it had been on a Friday and not a school night, it might have been the night that “went to 11”, so to speak.

9

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