Some bands need to reinvent themselves every tour. New costumes. New backdrops. New arrangements of older material (in some cases). In an age when attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, it’s only logical.
Russian Circles doesn’t subscribe to this theory.
Performing at Lee’s Palace for the fourth time in almost as many visits (they made a quick stop at The Phoenix last year to open for Between the Buried and Me), Russian Circles used their familiar setup. Minimal stage lighting, smoke machine, no mics, no banter. Just get on stage and play. The setlist never varies much. Staples like “Geneva”, “Carpe” and “Harper Lewis” make it to every show.
But it never gets old. It never gets boring. For an instrumental band that relies on atmosphere as much as they do musicianship (and believe me, there is musicianship to behold) they manage to say a lot without actually saying anything. Guitarist Mike Sullivan, bassist Brian Cook and drummer Dave Turncrantz spent the entirety of the set hidden behind a thick layer of smoke with only a wave goodbye a the sets conclusion to signal they were done for the night.
Perhaps the most striking thing about Russian Circles is how loud and dense their music gets for a three piece. Much of this is achieved by the use of looping pedals by Sullivan and Cook allowing the number of parts playing on stage to outnumber the bodies playing them. (that in itself is not uncommon as many bands make use of samples onstage. Yet Russian Circles is able to achieve this in a far more organic fashion)
The show opened with the crushing metal riffs of “Deficit”, a song from their newest record “Memorial” before cutting into the more melodic slow-build of “Harper Lewis”. I, along with the other banging-heads at Lee’s Palace, found myself hanging on every note. The set closed too soon with the chugging “Youngblood”, a departure from their usual finale, fan-favourite “Death Rides a Horse”.
I cannot endorse this band enough. Next time Russian Circles is in town, do yourself a favour and grab a ticket.
- Harper Lewis
- Youngblood (encore)