Live Report: Alcest, Deafheaven, Vaura in NYC

Alcest played Public Assembly in Brooklyn on Saturday (3/31) with support from Los Angeles’ Deafheaven and New York’s Vaura. It was Alcest’s first NYC appearance since their tour with Enslaved last September, following the release of Alcest’s Les Voyages de l’Âme, the band’s third full-length and next step in the meandering evolution of their ethereal/shoegaze/post-black metal.

The show was sold out, and Fred Pessaro (BBG) from Brooklyn Vegan deejayed a set of thrash, punk, death, grind, hardcore, and black metal to get things going. I’m pretty sure it was the only time I’ve heard Inquisition’s “Command of the Dark Crown” played as part of a DJ set. That’s awesome.

Vaura was new to me, but I was pretty impressed. The band features members of Gorguts, Kayo Dot, and Dysrhythmia. Their sound is a mix of black metal guitars, shoegaze sensibilities, and psychedelic prog rock, and it’s done well. The singer has a deep, sort of brooding voice that is vaguely reminiscent of Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt, and he also breathily reaches into the upper registers. They’re worth checking out, and have a song available as a free download on their Bandcamp. Their performance suffered a bit from sound issues—really heavy bass—but I think a lot of people left with a mental note to Google “opening band Alcest Public Assembly.”

Deafheaven were next and absolutely killed it. The frontman was goddamn electrifying. He furiously belted out his lyrics, taking breaks to cover his face with his forearm in pained exasperation, and frequently stood on top of a couple of gear cases he had stacked up to dangle the mic stand above the crowd. The crowd reacted enthusiastically and began to mosh (see pics below)- something that didn’t happen for any other band that night. They played most of their debut EP Roads to Judah, and were flawless in execution. Deafheaven is a must see band.

And then, Alcest. Alcest took the stage to a very warm welcome from the crowd, and the band replied with smiles. They were clearly comfortable up there, with frontman Neige softly thanking the crowd after the first song of the set, “Autre Temps”, the opener to Les Voyages de l’Âmeand chatting a bit between later songs. They sounded great, playing selections from each of their full lengths, including “Là où Naissent les Couleurs Nouvelles,” “Printemps Émeraude,” and “Écailles de Lune – Part 1,” before closing the set with the upbeat and heavier-than-most-Alcest “Percées de Lumière.”