Time is an interesting thing. It’s a definitive unit of measure that doesn’t change. And yet while it remains a constant, it also fluctuates in speed. For example, Tuesday, November 1st, the time spent at work moved at a snail’s pace. Minutes felt like hours and the day seemed endless. The anticipation for the evening’s event had a grasp on the hourglass halting the sand from falling.
And just like that, Father Time’s grasp of the hourglass releases and the sand comes pouring out making the four hours spent watching two of my favorite bands fly by like seconds. And here I am back at work in the blink of an eye writing about those seconds.
The Grey Eagle in Asheville hosted Russian Circles and REZN on November 1st and seeing these two bands in one night was a dream come true. REZN was the only opener, so right at 8pm they took the stage and started playing their unique and impressive music. The nerd in me kicked in and I got a front spot leaning against the monitors on stage. Much like the beginning of the year, I was standing right in front of bassist Phil Cangelosi. Watching him effortlessly move around the bass guitar holding down memorable grooving riffs is amazing.
As I mentioned, REZN opened and played a total of six songs, which was great but with their growing catalog of amazing music, I was hoping for more. Can’t be too greedy though. They opened with Possession, the new single off their upcoming album Solace that’s released next year. I thought I was excited for this, but that tripled hearing the song live! REZN seamlessly run through their setlist keeping the energy high with Rezurrection. The way the musicians blend heavy with calm is what caught my attention and held it. Sliding Garden Green right in after an eventful start to the night was a perfect calming moment, and Spencer Ouellette breaking out the saxophone is always a welcomed treat!
Inner Architecture starts slowly, building the anticipation for a strong ending. Looking back into the full room, the crowd is under REZN’s control. They ebb and flow through serene and chaos taking everyone on the journey. Waves Of Sand’s iconic delayed riff echoes through the crowd. The calm before the storm and everyone is feeling it. Scarab closed the set, much like last time I saw them and it’s the perfect ending. The high energy riff gets the blood pumping and closes out their set with a lot of energy! REZN is an experience, and I will not miss them anytime they are near. I would have been perfectly satisfied calling it a night there if it wasn’t for the fact the Russian Circles were next.
They ebb and flow through serene and chaos taking everyone on the journey…
A quick change over, I’m thirsty and my back hurts because I’m old. I’m also in the best possible spot, standing arm’s length from where Brian Cook will be. After a quick assessment, I decided it’s worth risking passing out and not losing my spot. The lights dim and the Ó Braonáin washes over the hushed crowd. The band takes their places as the song plays and as the final notes ring out, Russian Circles pummels the crowd, the brute force of Betrayal and without pause, transitions right into Conduit’s head banging riff. The new album Gnosis is incredible and I’m loving the new songs live already. The band have every action dialed into perfection, and as one song fades, droning music takes over, seamlessly transitioning the songs.
A moment of calm as the band retunes and switches gear before the memorable notes of Afrika begin. My buddy who was MIA for a bit came out of nowhere as the drums kicked in. It’s his favorite song of theirs and soaked in every bit of it before vanishing again. It was hot in there so understandably he went outside to cool off, but like I said, I was ready to see the entire show from my spot or pass out. Afrika transitioned into a drum solo that marked the beginning of Arluck. Dave Turncrantz is a genius. As Turncrantz stopped, Cook started with a fuzzed bass line and the drums picked back up where they left off leaving chills on my arm. Mike Sullivan joins in with his tapping guitar riff and the accompanying lights made it quite the experience.
There were no mics on stage, understandably, but that meant they also didn’t talk to the crowd. I like when bands talk to the crowd, but for Russian Circles, it’s not needed, and I preferred they didn’t because I think any talking would have interrupted the vibe. The trio continued their set with Deficit and Tupilak keeping the energy at max!
It’s been an unbelievable evening so far, but these last four songs put it over the top. Seeing Vorel live… I don’t even have words for that. Gnosis followed and watching Sullivan work his magic with loops was inspiring and the final epic riffs were perfectly timed, sounding exactly like the album down to the echoing reverb after the mutes. Youngblood followed and seeing as that song closed out Dunk! Fest (which I’ve worn out on vinyl), I assumed we were at the end. It would have made for a grand closer like the live album, but Mlàdek starts playing and since that’s my favorite song, I couldn’t have been happier to hear it close the show.
MVP of the night would be Brian Cook, watching him play guitar, bass, keyboard, Moog Taurus, or a combination of a few of them at the same time was jaw dropping…
It was an unforgettable night, and it was tough to enjoy the music and move along or stand there in awe of the precision each musician that night had. Switching gear, dialing in a vast array of pedals, playing keyboard or synth. MVP of the night would be Brian Cook, watching him play guitar, bass, keyboard, Moog Taurus, or a combination of a few of them at the same time was jaw dropping. Yes, jaw dropping, that sums up the night.
Words & Photos by: Josh Schneider