Russian Circles, Sleepmakeswaves & Robert MacManus, Hermanns Bar – 11/09/2011

With the pleasing news that tonight’s show had sold out, it was only two weeks ago that a second, earlier show was announced for Russian Circles’ Sydney visit. Fans who bought tickets were treated to support from Sydney post-rock heroes sleepmakeswaves and tour promoter Rober MacManus with a rare solo set.

Opening proceedings, MacManus brought the drone with a wash of guitar noise. There was plenty of ebb and flow and thankfully he opted for the more guitar-like tones, rather than the abrasive screech many other solo noise acts prefer. It wasn’t particularly mind-blowing, but it was an interesting and tasteful performance.

Locals sleepmakeswaves were a late and much-appreciated addition to the bill, but were clearly pleased to be sharing a stage with the Chicago trio. They wasted no time in delivering a top-quality performance, with soaring melodic flourishes atop devastating crescendos. The appeal has always been in the details for sleepmakeswaves – they rock as hard as anyone else, but bring with them an array of hooks, unique arrangements and carefully constructed songwriting. They set the bar high this afternoon, and, appropriately, appeared to do some fine business at the merch stand. The band is blowing up around the world with their debut album and it was a pleasure to catch them in such an intimate setting.

Russian Circles took a similar no-nonsense approach to the stage. The music spoke for itself – as soon as the massive wall of sound hit, their riffs saw punters’ heads swaying and arms in the air. Whilst heavy enough to appeal to the metal crowd, their versatility was on display, with lilting soundscapes appearing mid set and plenty of guitar, bass and drum interplay. Like sleepmakeswaves, they rocked hard – and whilst without the intricate detail, they more than made up for it with bone-crushing heavy. Also, unlike the majority of the post-rock/post-metal scene cliches, they opted for the sudden blast of climactic proportions, rather than the slow build. It was all instant gratification with Russian Circles – and gratify they did. Let’s hope they return soon; line-ups like this are to be cherished.

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