March 18, 2017
Sunn O))) played Knockdown Center
For almost twenty years, Sunn O))) have been champions of drone and doom. The latest installment of the Tinnitus Music Series brought the band to the Knockdown Center in Queens for their largest New York City show of their career.
For their nearly two hour long set, Sunn O))) cranked the volume up to 11 and never looked back. It was one of the more physically demanding shows I've ever experience as the band challenged the crowd and powered on through brutally heavy jams at excruciating frequencies. Their face-melting drones came in at bone-crushing volumes that made my body quake from the reverb. It was an endurance test for those with a noise fetish. Fog enveloped the stage, limiting clear views of the band and adding an extra element to the band's striking aesthetic. Hooded cloaks covered the band eliminating sight and allowing the sonic abrasions to take more of a hold on the audience. Booming tones conjured up some wild spirits and emotions. The crowd remained relatively still and transfixed throughout the duration of the night, at times raising their hands to actually feel the music. Many spent the show with their eyes closed, allowing the music to wash over them with sheer force and giving in to all of their senses and allowing the sound take control. For a brief moment, a lingering trombone cracked through the excessive drone creating a tingling sensation to the otherwise overpowering sonic landscape. Feedback and distortion reigned supreme for the evening and at times it felt like this might just last forever. It was continuous sound with no song breaks. Everything culminated into one feverish assault on the ear drums. It was one of the more unique shows I've ever experienced. Their minimalist compositions do not really allow for much rhythm (there was no percussion) so the songs began to shape-shift and morph into maximalist clouds of pure sonic terror. It was not a show for the weak and anyone walking into it without knowing what to expect may have thought they had joined a cult as the crowd showed little emotion and even after the band left the stage, people remained transfixed by what had just occurred. Anyone who considers themself a fan of extreme music needs to see Sunn O))) as these words hardly do justice to this unbelievable experience. It was a chance to for true escapism through music although at times the sound felt so overpowering, it was difficult to think. Still, it was magical event that saw people and their tolerance get pushed to limits. It was challenging to the right degree, as music should be, and really allowed the crowd to question why they were there and eliminated anyone who couldn't find the answer in the music.