Shrinebuilder / Rwake / Liturgy @ Le Poisson Rouge

NEW YORK, NY—I almost didn’t go to this show. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure if I was cool enough to be in the same room with Shrinebuilder. I’d been in the same room with their component parts before—in the case of bassist Al Cisneros (Sleep, Om) and guitarist Wino (St. Vitus, a hundred other awesome bands), it had only been a few weeks actually, and drummer Dale Crover (Melvins) and guitarist Scott Kelly (Neurosis) I’d all seen in the last few years. I’m not on a first name basis with any of them, and so for them to be all on stage together, I’d have to assume this was some special underground metal god soiree that requires a landmark record from the early ‘90s or prior to gain entry.

Somehow, I slipped in.

As did Liturgy, Brooklyn spaz black metallers that I was unfamiliar with and really don’t have a solid ground to speak of their set seeing as I only saw about three minutes of it. Sorry dudes, I spent a little too much time and money at the record store and missed it. It wasn’t long until the francophonic-in-name-only Le Poisson Rouge flexed and then relaxed its cigarette-smoking blogger crowd, allowing some room to get to the bar and get a spot to watch Rwake in relative comfort.

Rwake, who sadly confess I like more in concept than in practice, were solid and admittedly impressive. There aren’t a lot of people out there who can do what C.T. can, and the density of their set, which I think was maybe four or five songs, is undeniable. However, for all of the chi-building exercises it appears C.T. does between his growls and screams, the focus of Rwake fades during their long art-metal passages. Too often I found myself snapped out of the trance that should have pervaded their set.

This did not happen with Shrinebuilder. Having reached an alcohol-induced apotheosis via the various ales on tap at Le Poisson Rouge, I’m fairly certain I became one with Cisneros’ bass (as will happen). Of course, I can’t know for sure—these things are fleeting—but the muscular groove that all four men on stage were so keenly tuned into had its grip on the room. Head nodding was involuntary.

A lot has been made of the Joy Division cover (“24 Hours”) they’ve been performing live, but they could have played the Benny Hill theme and I would have been floored. Other cuts included, well, their whole record, as well as some primordial upcoming or unreleased material. All in all, it was an event you felt lucky to be at. Please, allow me to buy your respective bands’ entire catalog over again.