Show Pics: The Church with Helio Sequence @ 3ten (9/19)
Nostalgia acts are difficult. Ticket prices are usually higher, merch is prominent, meet and greets are “a thing” and expectations can be low. I have had several great experiences lately with bands I loved years ago coming in and performing at an insanely high level including two recent shows at 3ten with The Fixx and Midge Ure.
The Church, more to the point Steve Kilbey and a slowly evolving support band, last came through Austin for SxSW. I was always overlapped and didn’t have the chance to catch them along the way. When I saw the announcement for The Church to headline a show at 3ten, my interest level was sufficient to go on radar. When I saw the announcement that The Helio Sequence would open, I was locked in as they are one of my favorite things.
It was a good show, but not without issues. That is what we call a teaser. Click through for notes and all the pics.
Helio Sequence is so great. Benjamin Weikel is an absolute beast on drums. He emotes the percussion as he drums and there is zero holding back. Songs have intricate composition, syncopation at times that makes it hard to find your favorite elements. Meanwhile, Brandon Summers nails a vocal and fills with the layers of guitar and building swells of chords. My only complaint is that the backing track was a little low in the mix. Not a deal killer, in fact, I would dig a purely acoustic set some day.
And here is where things get a little sideways…
We have raved about the sound at 3ten. It can be absolutely stunning, it usually is. Loud, but not excessive, at the edge of needing ear plugs but still without fatigue, but for some reason the touring sound engineer brought in a different board and decided to reinvent the wheel. The ramifications were evident early in The Church‘s set and fans were presented with feedback that seemed to be generated by mics over the cymbals pumping through stage monitors to the vocals. The highs were very aggressive and abrasive and there was a constant sizzle. Mid-set, Steve Kilbey asked the front monitors to be limited to his bass and his vocal and the feedback was mostly gone, but damn that sizzle was still rough. The worst part was that it really affected songs like “Reptile” and “Under the Milky Way” due to the high jangle or twelve string guitars. Super bummed.
I wanted to love this show, with a great mix of songs and records represented. I just couldn’t get past the technical errors. Mr. Kilbey was quite funny while being pissed about sound, but I can’t feel bad for him as the it was his guy running the board. The new stuff came off well, the really old stuff was bad-ass. The Church‘s end product did not live up to expectations and this all serves as a reminder that the folks at the venue that work a new artist or at a new venue every night can make or break a show.
Finally, big ups to the fans up front. I only had the first three songs for each band making getting variety difficult, but people moved about to help me get done and out of the way. Shout out.