Levitation Live Shot: Brutus, Russian Circles, Deafheaven

Like a hurricane

What’s in a voice? In Stefanie Mannaerts’ case, a hurricane. Brutus’ drummer drew all energy to her at Empire’s Garage Friday, second consecutive all-hats-on night at Levitation. Audience tight knit in front of the stage and spilling back onto the long, deep concrete patio, they showed up to check out the Belgium post-punk trio’s hybrid howler.

Brutus (Photo by Jana Birchum)

She didn’t disappoint.

At first, the drums sounded boxy – as in bashing cardboard. Red mood lighting made it hard to even sight the beat keeper, many people in the back looking for her between guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden and bass storm Peter Mulders. The fact that the stage sits about a foot too short for good viewing in the garage itself outside of the first 20 feet also made it hard to spot the one person onstage who’s sitting.

Of course none of that mattered, because Mannaerts’ roar must have been heard all the way down the street at APD. Big, broad, keening, it filled the space and soared out into the chill night. That Mannaerts isn’t a native English speaker means all her words fuse together live without much discernible meter, but then the preternatural ascension of her cries negates trifles such as words, lyrics.

Her bodyguards Mulders and Vanhoegaerden, meanwhile, unleashed proton beams of steel-string assonance and dissonance.

Brutus’ Stefanie Mannaerts (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Viral video “War” meant most nodded in recognition 15 minutes into the 50-minute opening of the Sargent House showcase both indoors and outside. “Techno” – “I’m gonna dance in your big, big city” – landed another instant meathook. Brutus’ collective eruptions of hard indie and metallic post-rock spewed lava almost as high as Mannaerts’ wail.

Levitation thus stood at attention, taking it in, perhaps not quite sure what they were witnessing, but not a soul missed the supersonic siren in the room.

Russian Circles (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Deafheaven (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Chicago instrumental vets Russian Circles next braced an altogether coarser, more traditional brand of post-rock, yet their forceful metal drifts and lead pipe percussion lent a prickly industrial scrape to their potent explosions in the sky. Likewise Deafheaven, near midnight, riled up non-backpatch metallurgists with searing alt-black metal – all death defying hair whips and American Psycho screams – in closing down the Empire Garage.

Trust all your driving needs to the E. Seventh venue, and that Belgium number in there, let’s take its first U.S. tour for another spin Sunday night at the Parish.

Brutus, Russian Circles, Deafheaven

Friday, Nov. 8, 7:00pm, Empire outside

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Brutus, Levitation 2019, Stefanie Mannaerts, Stijn Vanhoegaerden, Peter Mulders, Russian Circles, Deafheaven

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