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Alcest - April 26, 2010 - Rex Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA

By: David E. Gehlke

Alcest is one of those bands one figures they'll never see. They're too off the grid, too cult, even by today's standards. Yet here they were, in the cavernous, spacious, way LOUD Rex Theatre. Attendance was sparse (Mastodon and friends were in nearby Greensburg) and in what was a first for this scribe, a deathlike silence engulfed the entire proceedings. No in-between song banter, no raucous cheering...just the faint sound of quiet. Probably fitting for a band of Alcest's nature.

After two so-so openers, which this scribe was kicking himself for not having arrived later, Alcest took the stage with the aforementioned hush and a few stage candles, to boot. Mainman Neige was joined by Les Discrets figurehead Furzy on bass; Amesouers drummer Winterhalter and Zero on guitar/backing vocals, opening with the glorious "Printemps Emeraude" from their unsurpassed Souvenirs d'un autre monde. Sure enough, note-for-note perfection ensued, as Alcest magically weaved a web of soft, subtle beauty over a spellbound audience.

Considering how big the Rex is and the sparse attendance (there were 50 people there, tops), the atmosphere we spoke of earlier made the title track from Souviners along with “Les Iris” even more impactful. Neige is a man of few words, opting for a simple “Thanks” after certain selections and his sad, forlorn stage presence was a direct reflection of some of the more somber songs off the band’s recent Écailles de Lune such as the spellbinding “Écailles de Lune Part 1,” whose first three minutes rank among the year’s most charming moments.

Alcest could have played all night; the concert’s intimacy was shadowed by how admirably the band’s material was performed. This scribe openly questioned whether Alcest could do their songs justice, yet they did, making the night almost as ethereal as a regular listening experience. Let’s hope for a return.


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