REZN / Lair / Harsh Realm @ The Odditorium, Asheville 12/12/2021

The Odditorium, the name itself suggests a unique yet good time will be had as soon as you enter the doors. The small bar/venue located in Asheville NC hosted three incredible bands Harsh Realm, Lair, and the almighty REZN on 12/12/21. The maybe 10-12 feet from the stage to the back wall meant you were going to be up close whether you liked it or not. Thank you Doomsday Profit for the earplugs from the night prior!

The Odditorium, Asheville - Photo by Josh Schneider
The Odditorium, Asheville – Photo by Josh Schneider

Harsh Realm, a three-piece from Asheville open up the show with explosive energy. I didn’t grab the setlist from them (what’s wrong with me!?!) and they are new to me so I am unsure of the songs that they played, but I can tell you there were five high energy songs that got the blood pumping and ready for the rest of the evening. All three musicians moved in unison, playing at ludicrous speed. It was astounding to watch, seeing them move so quickly and accurately while I struggle to keep up with Sunn O))) when playing.

five high energy songs that got the blood pumping and ready for the rest of the evening…

In between songs, lead vocalist/guitarist Nathan Landolt had a rather large pedalboard (different than his guitar) sitting up on a stand that created some haunting drones that sounded epic and provided interesting transitions between the harsh in your face riffs. I later learned from Andrew Griffin (Lair drummer) that Nathan Landolt owns and operates Hand of Death Records out of Asheville and released Lair’s newest EP At Our End.

Harsh Realm @ The Odditorium, Asheville 12/12/2021 - Photo by Josh Schneider
Harsh Realm @ The Odditorium, Asheville 12/12/2021 – Photo by Josh Schneider

After a quick gear change, Lair (a three piece from Richmond Virginia) grab their instruments and proceed to inject their unique version of doom into The Odditorium. Their set was fantastic. The three long songs had a natural crescendo throughout the set. Towering at least 7 feet tall (or maybe around 6’6”) stood Read Urban. He is the lead vocalist/bassist and after hearing his gut-wrenching vocals you realize that can only come from a large pair of lungs. A lot of times I find it difficult to hear vocals in the mix live but Urban was easily heard and spot on.

These three have amazing chemistry on stage and filled the air with incredible music…

Supplying the heavy riffs and tearing it up on lead was Anna Marie Dumain positioned on stage right. Most notable was her lead tone. It was reminiscent of Garrett of Windhand’s and sounded fantastic. Of course, I check out the pedalboard and noticed an EQD Afterneath pedal. I recently sold one myself and after hearing how Anna used it, I’m regretting that decision a bit.

Lair @ The Odditorium, Asheville 12/12/2021 - Photo by Josh Schneider
Lair @ The Odditorium, Asheville 12/12/2021 – Photo by Josh Schneider

Andrew Griffin sat behind the kit and a lot of that crescendo I spoke of earlier came from him. He started the show with seemingly random gentile cymbal hits and slowly built up to faster-paced, thundering drumbeats. Griffin told me this was the first time they toured as a three-piece and you would never know. These three have amazing chemistry on stage and filled the air with incredible music. Human Trench and Noose are also new songs to be released on a full-length album next year!

Rob McWilliams is easily one of my biggest influences as a guitar player. His ability to mix clean and heavy tones is perfect. On top of that, his use of a variety of effects makes everything he plays unique and interesting whether it’s one note or a complex riff. Getting to experience REZN and McWilliams playing live is beyond words.

REZN @ The Odditorium, Asheville 12/12/2021 - Photo by Josh Schneider
REZN @ The Odditorium, Asheville 12/12/2021 – Photo by Josh Schneider

That being said, I positioned myself off to the right of the stage so I can see everything, and I was right upfront. I was standing directly in front of Phil Cangelosi (bass). My ear is typically drawn to the guitar when I listen to their albums but live you can’t ignore Cangelosi on bass because he causes the floor to vibrate which shook my shoes sending rhythmic shockwaves straight through me, you not only hear the bass but feel it.

you not only hear the bass but feel it…

Sitting behind the transparent orange kit was Patrick Dunn who beat the living hell out of those drums. But, during Wake, Dunn plays three cymbal hits gently at the end of the bass riff. When the songs increases in intensity those three cymbal hits are much harder on the crash. I doubt he would think that would be the standout part of his drumming, but it was absolutely perfect with the song. To me that makes an exemplary drummer (or musician) who can make something so simple sound so epic.

REZN @ The Odditorium, Asheville 12/12/2021 - Photo by Josh Schneider
REZN @ The Odditorium, Asheville 12/12/2021 – Photo by Josh Schneider

I never thought I’d be talking about how great of a saxophonist in a band was but here we are with Spencer Ouellette. The saxophone parts he provides elevates these songs to a whole new level. Especially Optic Echo. Speechless. On top of that he has an intriguing synth setup used to create fantastic ambient soundscapes. He also did a cool transitional piece entitled Birds on their setlist where he created sounds that, you guessed it, sounded like birds on an early morning. Incredible.

The show started a little late, which was rather nice because Andrew Griffin (drummer of Lair) came up to me and introduced himself (he liked my Doomsday Profit T-shirt) and we chatted for quite a while. I know it’s been said often but it’s amazing how tight knit this community is, how overly kind everyone is and just how music can bring people together. Using Griffin as an example, we just met but talked like we had been old friends. Harsh Realm and Lair were an amazing surprise and REZN exceeded all expectations.

These shows just keep getting better.

Scribed by: Josh Schneider