On Friday, the French rock group Alcest performed at Sister Bar in downtown Albuquerque, as part of their 2017 U.S. tour in support of their latest release “Kodama.” The group played songs from their entire repertoire, ranging from their more recent shoegazing rock to their early black metal roots.
Originally from Bagnols-sur-Ceze, France, Alcest has been playing since 2000 and began as a solo project of vocalist and guitarist Niege. In its 17-year history, Alcest has gone through numerous lineup changes and has dramatically changed their sound throughout that span.
Recently, Alcest has started to return to their roots, releasing music in their signature “blackgazing” genre, a style of music perfect for a place like Sister.
With its gothic and mysterious atmosphere, Sister provided a scene that complimented Alcest’s music. On a stage next to a decorated brick wall, in front of a crowd dressed for the occasion, it was a goth paradise — classy drinks, mellow acoustics and a crowd receptive and adoring of the music performed that night.
When one goes to a show, it’s expected that there would be a mosh pit or dance floor packed with adoring fans that are completely entranced in the music. In electronic music shows you see poi being performed in the audience, while with rap you see dancing and the occasional mosh pit. At a rock show you see the opposite — moshing with the occasional dancing couple.
None of those were at this show.
This is not to say that it was an unsuccessful performance, but one of fable lost to a music scene obsessed with smartphones and collapsing in exhaustion over the single of the week performed 30 minutes into a two-hour set. The crowd stood almost silently, occasionally bobbing their heads to the beat; no roughhousing, no fainting, just respectful listening and deserved applause for Alcest.
Alcest’s command of the stage was that of a band that knew what it is about. Some bands have to compensate for their lack of natural stage presence by wearing quirky costumes and using various props to make it seem like they do it to enhance the show instead of doing it to prevent what would be a boring show without it.
Alcest kept it chill, letting their music speak for itself via a minimalistic vibe to keep it real and simple. It’s a good show if you walk away impressed by the music, not the theatrics.
Fin Martinez is the culture editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @FinMartinez.