SUNN O))) at Rockefeller Chapel

It’s a dangerous thing to say what a picture is. If things get too specific, the dream stops. There are things that happen sometimes that open a door that lets you soar out and feel a bigger thing. Like when the mind gets involved in a mystery. It’s a thrilling feeling. When you talk about things, unless you’re a poet, a big thing becomes smaller.

David Lynch

April 19, 2019

Spring has brought us a new album, Life Metal, from avant-garde drone project SUNN O))), headed up by guitarists Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley. Their sound consists of extremely low tempo and low frequency guitar played at enormous volume, but has evolved over the last twenty years to incorporate a wide array of instruments, as well as singing and spoken word.

Live, the show bears closer resemblance to a contemporary art installation than a traditional concert. Barely visible band members don hooded robes while the stage and audience are bathed in dense fog. On the surface, this seems like quite a bit of pageantry, but actually has the effect of making the sound itself the centerpiece. SUNN O))) also has Mayhem vocalist Attila Csihar on some tours, whose on-stage costumes, some incorporating lasers, add another level of surrealism to the presentation.

In celebration of the new record, the band has embarked on an April tour through the eastern U.S. The University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel was the site of their stop in Chicago and the tickets quickly sold out, resulting in the addition of a second show on April 22. This choice of venue made for a much more attentive audience: everyone was quiet, no one was (noticeably) drunk or antagonistic, and we had pews to sit in while we took in the sound waves.

For obvious reasons, this is a band best experienced live; a home stereo setup isn’t going to replicate the physicality of the live experience. And some will ask: But what does it all mean? For that, we have the wise words of David Lynch.

Additional 2019 live dates for SUNN O))) can be found here.