Show Review: Light Asylum at the Echoplex

Posted by Billy Gil, May 16, 2012 05:17pm | Post a Comment
LIght Asylum Echoplex“Fuck Pitchfork!” was the clearest message Light Asylum’s Shannon Funchess got across in her stage banter while playing the Echoplex on May 15th with Tearist, Chelsea Wolfeand Violet Tremors. She was referring to the so-so review of Light Asylum’s self-titled debut full-length, with which she (and many, like myself) disagreed.

That she would address the review in such a public setting with such abandon speaks largely to what is great about Funchess and Light Asylum, and why reviews of the band, either glowing or mediocre, are sort of irrelevant. The DGAF nature of her outburst or gruff addressing of the sound guy to lay off the “fucking” effects (immediately followed by a sort of apology) matches the no bullshit appeal of her delivery, whether she’s giving it all in emotional techno-ballads (“Shallow Tears,” which boldly opened the show, or their modern classic “A Certain Person,” which came next to last) or pulverizing audiences with an all-engaging persona of aggressive dancing and an awesome, sometimes terrifying growl in songs like personal fave “Pope Will Roll.”

The show was a huge improvement over the last time I saw them at the Echoplex with Salem, during which the room’s sonics washed out the sound a bit, while Funchess and cohort Bruno Caviello’s stage presence is even stronger than before. Funchess absolutely commands, singing powerfully with some combination of self-choreographed or ad libbed militaristic moves, inching toward the edge of stage and singing in people’s faces without coming off as antagonistic. The feeling gotten by listening to Light Asylum on record and watching them perform is a “bigger picture” thing that can’t be distilled into track-by-track album breakdowns — that’s what some reviewers missed.
Chelsea Wolfe performed her brand of brand of gothic noise-folk admirably, though her inclusion was slightly misplaced compared with the other three acts. Violet Tremors provided Minimal Wave Tapes-esque robotic pop that nicely whetted the appetite for Light Asylum’s more humanistic take later on. L.A.’s Tearist’s performance proved the closest in kinship, with singer Yasmine Kittles headbanging and lending her smoky drawl to industrial dance soundscreens, though the band still calls for clearer songs (like the skittery “Headless,” one of its best thus far, which sounded amazing Tuesday) to match their impressively theatrical performances.

Check out the photos from Light Asylum's in-store at Amoeba Music San Francisco HERE!

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Light Asylum (7), Tearist (6), Chelsea Wolfe (22), Violet Tremors (1)