Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stephen O'Malley @ Levontin 7

It probably goes without saying that this was the loudest solo gig I've ever seen.

Over the course of one hour, O'Malley's crushing guitar drones just got louder and louder. I know this was true and not some cumulative aural illusion where my ears were slowly destroyed because ten minutes into his set, I started getting a nice massage from my vibrating jacket. At the start of the set there was no massage.

The stage setup couldn't have been much simpler -- O'Malley and his guitar, a row of effects pedals and a semi-circular array of candles in front of him, two huge Marshall stacks behind him. Nothing really to see, nothing really to do except for bliss out or rock out (most people did the former, a couple of metalheads near the front indulged in the latter. I did some of both). Levontin 7 is a great venue for this kind of music -- a small, windowless underground space with low ceilings -- and the sound was just perfect. Despite the enclosed area and our proximity to huge guitar amplifiers turned all the way up, bass-heavy (as opposed to treble-heavy) drones means no ringing ears afterwards!

The volume wasn't as oppressively huge as the time I saw SunnO))) in a church a few years ago, but O'Malley's timing was a lot better this time. Always better to err on the short side rather than the long side with these sorts of shows.

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