I wasn’t assigned to cover Sunn O))), nor was I fan looking forward to seeing the show live.
May 26, 2016
Moogfest Gets Loud & Weird with Sunn O))), Reminds Us Why We’re Here
Droning bass lines, satanic chants, and spiky mirror suits close out the last night of Moogfest 2016 when Sunn O))) takes the stage
I essentially stumbled into the band’s concert at Moogfest with a few friends after I was done with panels for the day, not expecting much other than a loud metal show.
Earlier in the morning I’d found myself chatting with a stranger when some panel guests were running late to the event. Unfamiliar with the vast majority of artists performing at Moogfest, I asked the guy what shows he was looking forward to. He glossed over Gary Numan and Explosions in the Sky and then told me a fun story (that may or may not be true) about this band called Sunn O))).
According to the young man whose name I cannot remember and I wish I could credit, Sunn O))) was scheduled to play in the Carolina Theatre. However, due to concerns that the volume of their amplifiers could impact the stability of equipment affixed to the walls and ceiling in the venue, the show was moved outside to Motorco Park.
Another man sitting in front of us turned around and asked if we were talking about Sunn O))). He was a fan and had seen a show in person before. My new friend told him about the safety concerns.
“The bass could literally chip paint from walls”, he said. One of the main complaints about the band, according to unnamed stranger number two, was that the bass would shake your insides so hard you might get physically ill.
So of course I was going to the show.
I hadn’t heard of drone metal until I talked to the two gentlemen that morning. Apparently it’s characterized by heavy bass, long, drawn out notes and growling vocals. That sounds all fine and good and yes, a bit imposing and scary. But until I could feel my drink vibrate at the first pluck of the bass during sound check from near 200 yards away from the stage, I didn’t truly understand what I was about to see.
What followed was a satanic fever dream of massive cloaked men with giant, imposing beards expelling bass lines that resonated so deeply and loudly you could feel your lungs shake and the contents of your stomach vibrate and bubble like a shaken can of cola.
That’s what this festival is about. You get a wristband and four free days to explore. You’re confronted with the strange and loud and unpleasant, postmodernism and futurology and drone metal. It’s not about pleasing you or offering a comfortable environment, it’s about challenging your ideas of the future and technology, music and art. You might come for the bands you love or food you like, but you stay to explore outside of your safe zone.
That’s why I loved Moogfest, and that’s why I’ll be attending next year. I hope you will too.