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Sunn 0))) | Live Review, Dublin

“Have you ever tasted a frequency?”

Sounds like something a villain might say to Batman.

However, this question is writ large on a banner at the merchandise desk inside the Button Factory. There is a notice pinned up in several points around the building that reads “Tonight’s concert is very loud, ear plugs are highly recommended”.

These indicators cannot really prepare you in physical terms for what is going to happen in this venue tonight.

An hour previously I was crossing Dame St. to have a pint in the sunshine before the show. I spotted Attila, Stephen O’Malley and the rest of the band standing on the opposite side of the road. The fanboy in me wanted to yelp but instead I said “Have a good show, guys”.

They patted me on the shoulder and said “You too, man. Be cool, have fun.” They were calm, relaxed and looked to be in good form. Have fun… Hmmm.

Backline Schematics

Back inside the venue and the dry ice machine is working overtime. I can hear a smoke alarm going off and
being muted every few minutes. I know the gig is sold out but I have never seen the Button Factory this full before.

The plumes of smoke add to the slightly claustrophobic feeling. I find myself standing near the front.
“What the fuck am I doing here?” I wonder.

Having seen Sunn O))) a decade or more ago, albeit in a smaller venue, I know what to expect. After seeing their backline schematics and a photo of their stage set-up earlier that day, I should have had more sense.

Before I can send info to my legs to find sanctuary at the back of the room a hooded figure appears onstage.

My eyes have been fixed on the stage for the past 10 minutes. He seems to just have materialised.
Earplugs in. Have fun…

Attila begins a vocal solo which is part Gregorian chant, part cantor and part throat singing. This solo lasts for at least 10 if not 15 minutes. It is mesmerising, beautiful and terrifying in equal measure.

Bone Rumbling

The bass tones that he achieves are bone-rumbling. From my vantage point (and possibly because of the earplugs) – it feels like this section of the show is given the reverence that it deserves.

As Attila nears the end of this passage the unmistakable drone of O’Malley’s guitar (in this case a Travis Bean/Gibson SG, clear acrylic bodied, Frankenstein’s monster hybrid, gearheads) is heard (rather felt) entering the mix.

Soon after the rest of the hooded brethren join in. From this point out we are held in stasis by a force field of sound and vibration. Some people I notice seem to melt away very soon into proceedings.

After 30 minutes of full on sonic battery I feel the need to make my way to the back of the room. The volume is still intense but I can have a breather. Or so I thought…

The rear section of the room is full also, uncomfortably so.

There is now so much smoke that the stage and its inhabitants cannot be seen from this far back. After a brief respite I find that I am drawn back to the front, there is an irresistible urge, no – a need – to feel this wall of noise crash down upon me.

Attila has slipped on a grotesque “skin mask” and Sunn O))) are now in the grips of the show. It is an
incredible thing to see/hear/feel. Have fun… I am at this moment in an auricular bubble and I am happy as could be.

The lights begin to dim and the vibration feels like it has increased ten fold. There are amps feeding back a little more, the smoke machines have increased their output, and some piercing barks are somewhere in the mix.

Attila has returned once more dressed in a costume that is made of mirrors, replete with a crown of
reflective thorns.

On his hands are lasers which fire beams impressively in all directions cutting through the
smoke. Sunn O))) are going to levitate this place.

And then, just before lift-off, it stops – the noise, the lights, the smoke and we are returned to Earth. There stood before us the band throwing devil horns, looking genuinely shocked at the turnout and smiling broadly like any other band would at the end of a show.

This is not an ordinary band however – these guys have been interstellar.

StoutandAle ::: 22/07/17
Photos by John Beasley

  1. Did they play any songs?

  2. Eoin McLove Says:

    Sounds deadly.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    This was a show of epic proportions- the review is spot on too. Is the 15 minute intro that Attila started with a song or whats the craic with it?

  4. Unkind Raven Says:

    One of the best gigs I was ever at. Saw them 11 years ago too in Dublin and Galway, but was still blown away like a ))) virgin

    Thinking about it after for days and it was like there was a theme to all the theatrics. Like Atilla was a monk or sorcerer at the start and metamorphosed into a demon or deity by the end with the crown of mirrors – having gone through different stages in between.

    Impossible to explain how good it was, just has to be experienced

  5. yeah, it was an incredible experience. definitely one of those bands that make sense live in comparison to on record.

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