Live Review: Violens @ Rock'n'Roll Hotel, 5/4/12

I'm not just whistlin' Dixie when I say I was all manner of ridiculously excited to see Violens play the Rock'n'Roll Hotel, y'all. It had been years and years since I had first seen the slick NYC gents down in Richmond (where they proceeded to upstage headliner MGMT, in my humble opinion), and I was thrilled to pieces to be able to see them once again. They certainly made it worth my while, I must say, and justified my excitement and then some.

Lit by ethereal blue, they opened with the gorgeous "No Look on Your Face," a tightly-wound tempest with a wicked little backbeat and shades of 80s treasures in the tone. I hadn't heard the song before, and it instantly became a favorite. "Every Melting Degree" from new record True was next, with its gritty gruff intro and overall smoothness. Two songs in and I was already in love with the road currently being traveled by the trio. An evolution of the songs I fell for on the exquisite Amoral LP, the new stuff totally bowled me over. 

One of my favorites from Amoral was happily on the setlist for the evening, the aggressively sexy "Acid Reign," full of danceable beats and in impossible to ignore coolness. The song sounded much more raw than the recorded version, which was more than quite alright by me. It was during incredible new song "Unfolding Black Wings" that Lower Dens maven Jana Hunter made her way into the crowd to take in the Violens magic. Fuck me, y'all. The song was killer. A slightly thrashing, rapid fire and almost raging intro gave way to some serious beauty. And it just kept going.

"When To Let Go" was another song off True that will undoubtedly become a favorite of the year for me, treading almost poppy territory but retaining that slightly sinister edge that keeps Violens so appealing. There was almost a sweetness to the song, which was totally unexpected and a rather pleasant surprise. Another favorite amongst favorites was "Through the Window," archly lovely and ridiculously wonderful. In a way, there seemed to be a lightness in the new songs, like slivers of sunlight peeking in through heavy curtains. It was a joy to hear so much new material in one set. 

While I was admittedly a little bummed about the inclusion of just one song off Amoral, this disappointment was cast aside in favor of being totally blown away by the band and the new songs they shared with us. I'll go on record and say this was one of the best sets I've seen in all of 2012, and they were so good that I'd be stunned if I don't still feel that way when the waning days of December roll around. If you've never seen Violens live, do it soon. You'll understand what you've been missing when you do.   

[photo by Megan Petty]


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