Austin Psych Fest Live: Suuns

“It’s good feeling high”

Suuns’ Ben Shemie
Suuns’ Ben Shemie (by Shelley Hiam)

As Friday’s shy sun made its way downward, the icy tracks on March’s Images du Futur from Suuns defrosted themselves under the Levitation tent. Where the songs on this Montreal quartet’s sophomore album err dark and dreary, a face-to-face confrontation spoke to the benefit of expanse and ambiance.

Colored by shifting stage visuals, frontman Ben Shemie’s eyes glowed red in a Damien-type mix of boyishness and something sinister. And he’s letting you know nothing’s safe.

“Music Won’t Save You” acts as the final touch on the disc, but at Psych Fest, it opened the set with a sneer. Shemie detached artfully from the mic, spitting and hissing words when it seemed convenient, while the prominent guitar lick flirted with the rhythm, pulling away then joining again in a calculated threat to tear the whole song down.

While capable of siren-like full-neck guitar runs (“2020”), Suuns knows how to play with live performance elements in the same fashion as its albums: slow, repetitive build-ups to a sonic smack. 2010 Zeroes QC slice, “Pie IX” demonstrated precisely that, a seemingly endless chug of the same garbled line finally rising into its full, head-throbbing height as Shemie glowered at the crowd.

It wasn’t all feints and release though.

“Minor Work” cut the circumspect in a digestible song structure, eliciting cheers from the crowd with a simple first line: “It’s good feeling good/ It’s good feeling high.”

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