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SUNN O))) - Mesa Arts Center - Friday 6th September 2019

14 stacks of amps made a semi-circle on the stage. The vast theater began to fill up with dry ice as nocturnal jazz loosened us up. Then the lights went down, the hooded men came out and the onslaught began.

I've been a fan for 13 years now but never seen them live thanks to crazy work schedules. So there was a burden of long built expectation and the hype of others such as my friend Ian who said seeing them was "like being trapped inside a light saber". To me, it was like a medical procedure administered by heavy drone. Like a nice version of having a crown fitted where they attack the air around you instead of your mouth.

The crowd may have been very metal and the band ethos may be too but the sheer abstraction and crushing waves of of it all pushes things way beyond any genre. The intense volume made every drawn out, growling chord vibrate your whole innards. I felt tremors from parts of my insides I'd never felt before. I could imagine these shows might have some kind of medical benefit. Although at other times the low end made my heart feel like I'd just chugged a quad shot latte.

Due to a switch from late shifts to early the very same day, I went into the concert in a state of extreme exhaustion and when that met this intense banquet of the senses I began to feel utterly overwhelmed, though in a good way. While it was a shame the show had to move from its original venue, Arcosanti, a desert eco village, this modern state of the art theater was perfect with comfortable seats to melt into as the experience liquefied mind, body and soul. Normally the kind of place you'd expect to see a touring theatre show. What did the middle aged ushers in their neat red uniforms make of it all? I've seen many of the most intense bands live over the years but this was another level. It was a delightful pummeling of the senses. It was heavy metal deconstructed into something loose and drifting.

Afterwards I stumbled out into Tempe center at midnight to find the streets deserted and the only sound was the bizarre shrieking of exotic birds. Normally my headphones would be on as soon as I left the building but what could you possibly listen to that would match that metal druidic ritual on that mighty wall of amps? I'm not sure I'll ever be the same again...

Special thanks to Lauren Barley

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