LIVE REVIEW | Kylesa w/Circle Takes The Square & Ken Mode – 23rd Feb 2012

Tearing half-empty venues apart with earnest vigor is all just part of the job when you’re KEN mode and opening a three-band bill on schoolnight. But y’know there are worse ways to working your ticket across Europe, spreading at-once fierce and reflective metal/hardcore/noise jams to crowds that might lack the numbers but not the appreciation. It’d be real cold in here if it wasn’t for the Canadian trio kicking out nervous wreck guitar and plaintive yelps. Don’t sleep on their bloodletting, almighty rite-of-fuck-this Venerable—it’s got all you need, and if you’re looking for pop culture mathematics to pique your interest, Kurt Ballou produced it, and there’s a super-lith three-minute song called “Mako Shark” closing it out. …As all you marine biologists and sportfishermen out there know, the mako is without question the coolest shark in the ocean. But yeah, live in a dive with dimensions that put foreheads in danger of swinging headstocks, there’d be no escaping KEN mode’s power.
Circle Takes the Square
are complicated by design, and that’s not really a deal-breaker. Like it’s cool when they’re suddenly jam a lid on their Deadguy extremists’ take on screamo and collapse into the experimental putter of down-tempo alt-rock. That’s OK, and it can be a welcome challenge on record for those days where the brain magically snaps to it and can handle the contrarian dynamics of the Savannah, GA trio rocking back and forth on seesawing compositional whimsy. Plus, you get the impression that CTTS will cultivate a following of zealots who’ll always buy into their every caprice, y’know those who get it and all or at least understand enough of it. But, shit, when they’re playing live, it can be a total turn-off when there’s very little to hold on to. Tonight there’s both confusion (hmm, OK) and elation (good), and indifference (bad) staring back at them. Who knows, maybe that’s how it should be.

Kylesa “Tired Climb” [not from this show, but the same tour]

Kylesa are getting way ahead of themselves. Not in the sense that the looser-psych of Spiral Shadow has seen them somehow overstretched creatively, but that they’re on stage too early, surely, ripping through “Said and Done” while Windows 7 is still in sleep mode and their visual backdrop is the 7-by-10 foot interpretation of a PC’s sad face. Hey, when a band pushing the extremes it’s meant to be the sound that gives way in the opening act of any extreme band’s set. And Kylesa are extreme. Spiral Shadow’s “Tired Climb” and “Don’t Look Back” might have grown out of somewhere other than Kylesa’s roots in Savannah’s crust and hardcore scene, instead drawing from the more gentrified wellspring of, well, almost-grunge and early-90s American alternative rock. But with two drummers playing in synch, both big-hitters, both pushing an almighty amount of volume onto the stage, it’s no small-beans achievement that Kylesa’s sound is immaculate. The swirling synth warp employed live in the last couple of years’, puts serious interstellar spin on their set, complementing meticulously assembled pedal boards that dutifully administer electronic peyote to their guitar.

With Kylesa, there is the constant struggle between the raw muscle of hench sludge riffs and trippy Syd Barrett psychedelics; or Phillip Cope with his hardcore yell and Laura Pleasants oscillating between a death/grind grade enormo-roar and like actual singing. Somewhere there’s a balance in it all. And maybe it was found on lengthy extended tours like this one. Whatever, live Kylesa are improbably powerful, and now come with Slash, circa ’87 at the Ritz, stage moves. Eric Hernandez has punched the clock on this tour, replacing Corey Barhorst on bass, but it’s business as usual—each track juiced by double-portion percussion, Pleasants, stage left, on screams/riffs and Cope on the right providing ancillary synth support… And in turn it’s the audience that’s caught trying to find equilibrium between head-nodding reverie and rough-and-tumble pit violence. “Running Red” and “Where the Horizon Unfolds” sees tonight end with the latter. Crushing.

Kylesa [live in Sweden a week or so ago]

Kylesa will be touring the U.S. with GWAR in April. Ghoul and Legacy of Disorder are on the bill too :
12 Apr 12 New Orleans, LA (US) The Parish @ House of Blues
13 Apr 12 San Antonio, TX (US) Backstage Live
14 Apr 12 Corpus Christi, TX (US) House of Rock
16 Apr 12 Pensacola, FL (US) Vinyl Music Hall
17 Apr 12 Orlando, FL (US) Beacham Theater
18 Apr 12 Jacksonville, FL (US) Freebird Live
19 Apr 12 Asheville, NC (US) The Orange Peel
20 Apr 12 N. Myrtle Beach, SC (US) House of Blues
21 Apr 12 Baltimore, MD (US) Sonar
22 Apr 12 Columbus, OH (US) Newport Music Hall
23 Apr 12 Nashville, TN (US) Marathon Music Works
25 Apr 12 Buffalo, NY (US) The Town Ballroom
26 Apr 12 Poughkeepsie, NY (US) The Chance
27 Apr 12 Hampton Beach, NH (US) Wally’s Pub
28 Apr 12 Allentown, PA (US) Crocodile Rock