before i say anything else, took, even though you specifically asked and wanna know - i apologize in advance if this will read like rubbing it in your face, because i know you wanted to see Alcest play for a long time.
but you seem like you really wanna know, and i'm dying to talk about this to someone, so here goes.
it took me a while to get into Alcest. the first track i'd stumbled across was Les Voyages De Lame, and it blew my head clean off. it was so god damn inspired, ethereal, majestic, pretty yet powerful, all at the same time. the song builds and builds so fluidly and then that fucking crescendo in the end is just ridiculously climactic. OK nevermind, fanboy gushings. point is, after starting off with that track i had difficulty finding other tracks that i liked because none compared.
after some listening around, it took me some time to realize Les Voyages De Lame (the record) is actually amazing from top to bottom, and although i'm still working my way through their discography, so far i still firmly believe that record has their best music, and perfect balance between noisy dreamscape shoegze and that black metal aesthetic.
so after having a reckless scooter cunt guy ramming straight into my fucking bike on the way to the concert, and having to replace the front wheel today, i got at the venue only to discover there are like 150-200 people waiting in line to buy a ticket. like, three or four flights of stars jammed with ppl. luckily i preordered (hell yea), so i went straight past all those motherfuckers (basking in their astonished yet undeniably resentful gaze) and got my ticket within 5 minutes.
ACTUAL CONCERT REVIEW
ok this is where the actual thing starts. i made my way into the crowd, placing myself dead center in front of the stage (where Neige would be), about third row. one of the perks of attending live shows in China is that i'm much taller than most Chinese, so even standing in third row i had a totally clear look at the stage with nothing in my way.
there was some shitty ass guitar music playing at a low volume as everybody seemed psyched up for the band to show up (95% of the attendance was Chinese - tbh i was quite surprised there weren't more foreigners). then all the sudden i caught a shadow of neige's senescent hair flailing from backstage, and everybody started freaking out as they took the stage, just on time, no star ego bullshit stuff.
they opened the set with Kodama, and the second the full band entered for the first time, it just sounded so colossal, i felt like the exploding bass drum and toms and bass and guitars just punched a hole in me. it was so incredibly loud, but sounded really fucking good. the bass response was so massive, my entire body was vibrating, i felt like G force, like on an intense rollercoaster.
the sound, surprisingly, was better straight off the top than what it was after that. then it got good again near the end. sometimes it was hard to hear what the guitars were doing, and sometimes neige's vocals were barely audible (though that's kind of a permanent stylistic choice i'm aware). but the band was tight, played with enormous amounts of attitude, knew their shit inside out, and frankly were fucking amazing from top to bottom.
i think it was probably the one single concert i'd enjoyed most in my life so far.
most other concerts i'd ever been to have been artists i'm only somewhat interested in, but my interest kinda waned after a while in those cases. and i mean, barely any artist i like ever came to israel. the type of artists that come to israel are choads like robbie williams and beyonce, or they're massive shows too big to enjoy, i.e paul mccartney playing in front of 100,000 people. i mean i would have LOVED to see mccartney, and still kinda regret not going tbqh, but with 100,000 ppl there what's the point. might as well watch it on tv.
it should be noted that all four Alcestees are honestly very handsome dudes, and Neige in particular might very well be the first man ever that I have actually looked at and was like, 'dude, i think i might be attracted to this guy'. something about his air, his demeanor - i am absolutely not ashamed to say i have a massive man crush on this dude atm.
he's not a self important rockstar douchebag though. you could totally tell he wasn't very good at talking shit or just bantering with the audience. he barely said anything except 'xie xie' and 'thank you so much guys' for the entire set, but when each song ended and the crowd cheered like crazy he just stood there with with this disarming (yeers burnn) shy smile, like it's his first time, with his hand pressed against his heart. he's definitely not like other musicians in that regard. his reactions to that kind of praise were quite beautiful to look at for me, honestly. true modesty. he seemed humbled.
it should be noted that i was so enormously happy to be attending this show within a Chinese crowd. they're all so shy and stilted and unlike american/european/western postmodern hipster shitstains. if that crowd was american, i'm POSITIVE there would be a mosh pit, tons of guys with outrageous and 'rebellious' outfits who need to headbang like they're trying to get rid of a filling in order to impress their Punk Supervisors, loudmouthed assholes ruining the experience for everybody, etc.
i was quite fortunate that in 2017, i got to see a show where people just fucking stood there and listened to the music. no bullshit. people barely even took out their phones. of course ppl took pics here and there, but it didn't even bother me (and it usually drives me up the fucking wall to see some cunt seeing the show through his cellphone screen as he's video filming). no outrageous outfits, no loudmouthed assholes, no cellphones, no moshpit. just a lot of people who came to respect the music. i absolutely loved that.
on a slightly less positive note, though. you know, alcest's songs are very dynamic and are constantly transitioning from loud parts to quiet, shimmery parts. what was somewhat annoying, was how every time Neige started screaming, everybody would go EIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII or YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAA or WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, like 'oh finally, do more of that bro'. i mean if you're gonna appreciate a band like alcest you'd be such a moron to be in it only for the screaming parts, cause they're literally the least important ones in the band's sound (at least imho), and are basically there to provide context. but nevermind, this is just me telling kids to get off my lawn. the crowd was great.
the whole band played really fucking well. they're a convincing and cohesive unit, and ebb and flow together, just like it should be. though there is no question that Neige is the truly outstanding talent in the band. his singing was beautiful, his screaming was perfect, his guitar playing was pretty much flawless and his guitar tone was (to my great surprise tbh) just as amazing as it is on the records.
if there are any tech geeks here, i checked out his pedalboard after the show, and for a 'shoegaze' artist, he really doesn't have much on his pedalboard at all. next to nothing. he gets his sound by running a split signal to a Roland jazz chorus amp, and a Fender twin reverb (if i'm not mistaken, it was hard to see). then his pedalboard only has some overdrive pedal, a boss delay pedal (a DD-5 i think), a tuner, and that's more or less it, give or take another pedal maybe. it's all in his hands. his cleans sound just as gorgeous as they do on the records.
funny anecdote for netphoria:
there was very little banter so i was looking for the right moment to yell out "LE VOYAGES DE LAME" so they might possibly maybe pretty please play it. finally, after like 12 songs, i muster up the courage and say it loud when there's a quiet moment, and Neige immediately went "actually, no". haha. shot down. then he said they will be playing a different song.
i still love you, Neige.