For the past six years, I’ve had the pleasure of repeating, “This Russian Circles album is their best yet,” four different times. Rarely does a band seem to be on such a trajectory for greatness and going after it slowly but surely as Russian Circles. But every couple of years, they blow their last release out of the water. In the live setting, Russian Circles is the exact same way, too — just getting slightly and slightly better with every tour.

June 24th, 2012 @ Neumo’s in Seattle, Washington




Seattle locals Sandrider opened up for the Sunday night crowd and did what they do better than anyone in the 206 does right now, namely — brought the rock and jammed it down the crowd’s throat. Featuring soon-to-be ex-members of Akimbo (RIP come August 2012) and The Ruby Doe, Sandrider played a setlist consisting of tracks from their absolutely raging self-titled debut album. Despite being only given a half hour, guitarist/vocalist Jon Weisnewski culminated the set with a quick glance at his watch, a pause, and a, “Fuck it, we are playing one more” — much to the delight of headbanging enthusiasts across the floor of Neumo’s.


And So I Watch You From Afar

The Northern Ireland-based And So I Watch You From Afar is one of the funniest bands to describe solely based off their name. It seems to be part post-rock, part emo, and all around just a pretty terrible band name. ASIWYFA have a bit of the post-rock sound, although less brooding and more just launching into guitar hook followed by guitar hook, with a healthy dose of beyond enthusiastic rock n’ roll in-between. The emo-ness is sorely absent — and that is a good thing. Because instead of sitting around moping on stage, ASIWYFA are one of the more energetic live bands you probably haven’t seen yet. So if you get the chance, go see them. Northern Ireland is far away from the state you live in, and it isn’t too often the band comes around stateside.


Russian Circles

Russian Circles took the stage to a very crowded Neumo’s floor, especially considering the Sunday night timeslot. The band has always had a healthy following in Seattle, partly due to bassist Brian Cook calling the city his home, as well as it being the recording site of Station. Either way, the love the Emerald City shows Russian Circles is justified, as they are slowly but surely becoming the premiere post-metal/instrumental act existing on U.S. soil. Billows of smoke filled the stage and the band existed as silhouettes and shadows standing in front of bright yellow lights surrounded by plumes of smoke. They rarely slowed down, even to tune in-between songs, and played a long set that covered bits and pieces from each of their four full-lengths. When it was time to get beautiful, the band did. When it was time to get heavy, the band got fucking heavy. The effects of the smoke and lights were perfect for the environment — just like Russian Circles — lending a credence to heaviness while not being too over the top or drowning in the spectacle of it. Russian Circles has long been a band balancing a fine act between metal and melody, and seeing them live shows how firmly the band understands this delicate line to toe.


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