Chance Amazement

Oftentimes I go to concerts to be surprised. I primarily go for the headliner, but the supporting act is always a surprise. When I attended a great show by Opeth in the Heineken Music Hall at the beginning of November, that surprise turned out to be astonishing. That evening, the show was opened by the French band Alcest, and they are something special.

Alcest is a project by multi-instrumentalist Neige (Snow in French), whose real name is Stéphane Paut. He founded the ‘band’ in 2000 as a black metal band, but Alcest has long shed that sound. Now, they are called a ‘shoegazing’ band, which basically means that in shows they tend to stand still and seem to be looking at their shoes, while they make music that is dreamy in every sense of the word. Their music is truly amazing.

From the second that Alcest set foot on the stage until the moment they walked off, every single person in the audience seemed to stand still in awe. The band just stood there, quietly and calmly, as if they were hanging out somewhere and just happened to play some music. Because of minimal and dim lighting, they were practically hiding in warm shadows, adding to their hypnotic performance.

Their music is atmospheric to say the least. It is full, sweet, delicate, disarming, liquid, engrossing and powerful. In a strange way it is deafening in its softness. When I heard it, everything around me seemed to disappear. Even now, while I’m writing this, Alcest’s “L’Eiveil Des Muses” is putting me under a soothing spell, right after their wonderful “Autre Temps” all but transported me into space. The careful character of the songs, achieved by wonderful guitar playing and slow and soft vocals that seem to disappear into the music, takes you to wonderful places. “Shoegazing music” sounds just about right for this kind of band, because you seem to stare into realms of music and colour when you listen to them.

I feel touched and moved by their music. It captivated me when I saw them on stage, and it doesn’t seem to let me go quite yet. It was strange to see them end their set and leave the stage after not even an hour of playing. Their beautiful music seemed to stretch beyond time, and any ‘end’ to it was unbefitting. I listen to it over and over again, finding new nuances every time and loving every second of it. Experiencing Alcest was really an astonishing surprise, and certainly one that I will remember quite fondly. It’s always great when amazement comes out of nothing.



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