YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN at the Doug Fir!
Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of seeing not only one of my old favorites, Xiu Xiu, but a new favorite, openers Yamantaka // Sonic Titan at the Doug Fir! Their self-proclaimed "psychedelic noh-wave opera" tunes were long and sweepingly haunting. All band members' faces were painted white with various black details, which brought to mind both Kiss and maybe... Japanese dolls? These details and effects such as traditional Asian fans and the soft ringing of bells made it easy to get lost in their performance, in the best possible way. Their set was fascinating to watch, as it was more like a continuous wall of sound closing us in, with few breaks between songs and even fewer words spoken to the audience. When they left the stage, my friend Austin and I just stared at each other, not yet ready to come out of the trance they’d put us in. In his words, their music sounded “like a big storm reaching an apex, and then going back into hiding.”
Personally, I couldn’t have imagined a better way to prepare to see Jamie Stewart, whose performances don’t exactly lack emotion and passion themselves, as anyone who’s seen Xiu Xiu can attest (he performed Suicide’s epic “Frankie Teardrop” as an encore, and well.) While I enjoyed seeing tUnE-yArDs open for Xiu Xiu a couple of years ago in San Francisco, the transition with respect to style was much smoother this time around.
The Montreal band, who considers themselves more of a performance arts collective, was truly theatrical and unforgettable. The members stoicism was interesting considering their music got very heavy at times. Along with traditional Japanese and Chinese influences, metal and drone are in there as well. Sounds funky, right? To hear for yourself, check out their LP “YT//ST” on the group's bandcamp here: http://yamantakasonictitan.bandcamp.com/.