live review

Kerretta

Kerretta

January 28 2011
Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland

Reviewed by James Talbot
1st February 2011

Kerretta, The Kings Arms, 28/1/2011

It's difficult to describe a band that falls into the instrumental genre embarrassingly known as “post rock”, and even more so to differentiate between songs when there are no lyrical landmarks. Without an intimate familiarity with the titles of their recorded material, it's nearly impossible to identify specific tracks without resorting to phoneticism of the guitar sounds (I really like that one that goes brrrrrrrrWEEEEOWjuhjuhjuhJUHJUHJUH).

It's probably for this reason that bands of this genre of instrumental rock are so frequently accused of producing endless variations of the same vast soundscape: typically a slow, melodic buildup that results in an avalanche of guitars and symbol clashes. Although this isn't an entirely baseless claim, the truth is that the kind of music produced by bands like Kerretta is quite diverse, but appeals to a very specific, attentive audience. This may have been why The Kings Arms wasn't bursting at the seams for what turned out to be an astonishing performance on Friday night. That, or because it was pissing with rain and not a great night for anyone to venture out of the living room to have their eardrums and brains exploded for twenty dollars. Whatever.

Opening acts The Commonwealth and 1995 played admirably but nonchalantly to the sparse audience and paved the way for what could easily have been a routine evening at The Kings Arms. But the set that Kerretta laid down was anything but routine. Their performance didn't stumble into the same pitfall as so many bands of their kind; the lush soundscapes that are so meticulously mixed in the studio recording process can easily degrade into a churning wall of distortion when translated to a live setting. Kerretta's evasion of this problem was a testament to their technical expertise and live experience gained from their extensive performances in America. The result was a show that was both blisteringly intense and mechanically precise in its execution. Their pulverising guitar riffs and garish flourishes came through distinctly and clearly without being dominated by the atypical drum rhythms, and despite the immense volume, the sound reached the audience with expert clarity. And what a sound.

The sonic onslaught was accentuated by an effective use of stage lighting. Although simple in composition, it had a remarkable effect on the impact of Kerretta's performance; the band employed the tried and true formula of dim illumination for the bulk of the set (by both the stage lights and flickering LEDs on the sprawling array of effects units at their feet), and flaring into visibility during all the loud bits. Well... the relatively loud bits anyway.

There was a satisfying amount of new material thrown into the show, presumably from their forthcoming album, which showcased the band's development since their performances following the release of their debut Vilayer. Despite being laced with the same signature ferocity, the new tracks were brimming with enough hooks to distinguish them from the older ones.

Kerretta played an amazing show and it was great to hear so much new material so soon after their first album. Now I want their next album and I want to pay good money for it.

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