Circle’s NWOFHM @ DC9

Been to several shows since I last posted to the blog. I’ll talk about them in reverse chronological order, in separate posts. This past Thursday, I saw Circle, the Finnish psych/metal/whatever group, at DC9, a little club here in DC that usually caters more to the local indie-rock and dance scenes (ie, there’s a reason I’ve never been there before this show). It was kind of a surreal experience. I’m not all that familiar with this band’s work, having only heard Tower before the concert, and that is, from what I understand, a pretty non-representative sample, consisting as it does mostly of lots of electric piano and having a very relaxed, nearly ambient feel overall.

Anyway, the band is a four-piece of guitar, bass, drums and keys, with the keyboardist and bassist doing their fair share of singing. The keyboardist was fully decked out with all the (in Steve F’s words) rock star accoutrements, including studded belt, bracers, and some kind of suspenders, and was one of the most bizarre frontmen I’ve ever seen, between his strident vocals and his unconventional dancing (through one of their more metallish, fast-paced songs, he spent the entire song essentially sprinting in place). The music was more along the lines of what I’ve heard about these guys than Tower — a meshing of hard rock, metal, and ambience, all served up with a heaping portion of repetition. There were a few songs that did absolutely nothing for me and a few that I thought were totally brilliant. Often the band seemed to fall into a kind of formula, bouncing a bit predictably between ambient textures and heavy riffing, but when the combination really worked, they were awesome.

All in all, I was sold enough to want to buy a couple albums. Steve had given Andexelt his highest recommendation, but sadly they weren’t selling it, so I came away with Tulikoira and the second Pharaoh Overlord album (the latter band is a spinoff project headed by the Circle guitarist but featuring most of the rest of the band as well). Tulikoira seems like a pretty representative album of the band’s heavier sound, but while I like it well enough, I really like the Pharaoh Overlord album — it’s got the ambient, almost trancey feel of Tower, but uses ominous riffs instead of relaxing electric piano. It’s almost like a kinder, gentler, much more melodic drone/doom metal, with the addition of lots of acoustic guitar for texture.

I enjoyed the Circle show quite a bit, but it also illustrated to me how bad I am at going into a show without knowing much about the band. I almost never enjoy those shows as much as I should, merely because I’m not familiar with the music beforehand. Hopefully these guys will tour again soon, after I’ve had a chance to digest some more of their stuff.

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