All it took was one warm-up word: “check.” When vocalist Sean Ingram (shown left) screamed that syllable sans microphone on Wednesday night, the forthcoming mayhem from math-core groove masters Coalesce was evident.
With hardcore label-mates Daughters, the newest incarnation of Coalesce has been touring the Midwest in support of There is Nothing New Under the Sun, a disc originally built on Led Zeppelin covers that was just re-released through Hydra Head Records. The short tour, which concludes tomorrow in the band’s hometown of Lawrence, Kansas, was its first since 2002.
The catharsis of the performance — to not more than half a room of devoted attendees in Chicago’s northwest suburbs — was obvious. Ingram, whose gutteral bark grew hoarse by the night’s end, reveled in the group clustering around him and shouting along to the band’s complex brand of hardcore.
Guitarist Jes Steineger (shown left), whose reverence for rock riffs keeps Coalesce in a category all its own, spent the set shifting and slithering in place, closing his eyes or rolling them upward as though he were drifting between planes of existence.
The four-piece embodiment of sonic brutality gave longstanding fans all they could ask. With recent drumming addition Nathan Richardson, Coalesce spanned much of its back catalogue, performing tracks from killer new seven-inch Salt and Passage, seminal full-length 0:12 Revolution in Just Listening, pivotal EP Functioning on Impatience, and debut full-length Give Them Rope.
But it didn’t take long for homages to work into the set. After a pair of songs, the group tore into a colossal cover of Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” Respects were paid to Fugazi with a rendition of “Repeater,” and a verse of “Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix was played shortly before Functioning on Impatience opener “You Can’t Kill Us All” sent the small gathering into a frenzy.
Much of Daughters then joined Coalesce just before the latter’s two-song encore to execute a punishing version of The Jesus Lizard’s “Mouthbreather.” Singer Alexis Marshall of Daughters, who had a slightly larger turnout and captivated the crowd with spastic, dissonant guitar work, traded sassy lines with backbreaking screams from Ingram in a fashion that would make cult icon David Yow proud.
– Scott Morrow
Photo credits: Vince Cecchi