It was around this time last year that New York was first able to enjoy the music of The Gathering, and the Knitting Factory venue was where they stopped in for the visit. It was a great way to catch them in a quasi-intimate setting. When they announced that they would be returning once again I was very pleased that they were now under the guidance of The End Records who enabled this to happen the first time as well. For the show tonight they would be supported by their label mates Tub Ring and be performing at the semi-new venue called Club Rebel. The place was formerly The Downtime and since I had never been inside the club before tonight it would also be a new experience for me as a music journalist, in that I was looking forward to bringing you the highlights and any lowlights that I would experience during the night.
Read on for Ken Pierce's take on the evening!
Tub Ring: The band Tub Ring is probably one of the most entertaining and visually erratic bands that I have seen in a long time and I'm sure everyone around me agreed with this perception. Their sound is a mixture of various Rock styles and given the way they mix things up it's best to label this as Experimental or Avant-garde. The lead singer is one of those madmen that is able to get you going at every second of the set and to be honest I could pretty much say the same about their keyboardist. At times he would climb atop them and jump down to better accentuate his notes and cause for music. Their debut release on The End Records is called "The Great Filter" and while material from it would be focused on they would also treat the crowd to other stuff as they have a number of other albums. They were really worth seeing and I look forward to another chance at this. I recommend these guys for fans of music that hangs precariously off the edge and if the aspects of Mister Bungle or Sleepytime Gorilla Museum appeal to you then please give these dudes a shot as well.
The Gathering: Since their association with The End Records, The Gathering has issued two studio recordings and one performance DVD entitled "A Sound Relief". The amount of product has been great as the label seeks to multiply the number of fans that exist in their demographic in this region and so far as I can guess this is working out very well. The interesting thing about this band is that they are not quite the Gothic Metal sounding group that they once were and are now more along the lines of a trippy Atmospheric enterprise. The venue tonight had a sizable crowd and it looked to me about as large as the first time that they came around. This was nice, but there can always be more people if you ask me and especially when it is for a band that does not make the rounds all that often. I was happy to find them hitting the stage very quickly after Tub Ring, because the venue was growing uncomfortable based on the temperature inside the place. Summer was close to beginning and to be honest it was hotter inside than it was outside. As they launched into "Shortest Day" you immediately realized just how good a voice Anneke has in her possession. I find her one of the most hypnotic vocally and also one of the most expressive performers that I have seen in a long time. As the music plays she dances and bops to every note with a beaming smile on her face at all times. It's clear to everyone in attendance that she loves doing what she does and we are really appreciative of this from down in the audience. I'm tired of those performers who look like they hate being onstage and this is a welcome sight to me as someone who strives to get to as many shows as possible. They continued on in their sets with some of my own favorites like "Even The Spirits Are Afraid", "Eleanor" and "Saturnine" and as you glanced around the audience you could see many people singing along with her. Clearly there were more original fans as opposed to those who were curious and while that's cool, it is also a shame that more newcomers were not here to see what they are all about. After some long initial sound discrepancies you were able to indulge in the rich and moody guitar sounds of Rene Rutten who seemed drowned out by the drums and bass this evening for the larger part of the set's beginning. This did not seem to be their sound persons fault but instead the way the venue was handling the sound. There is an open floor area and an overhang and it seemed to me that this section was sucking all the sound away at points. There is not a lot of chatter from the band or audience during a Gathering set, as instead everyone just allows them to be taken away by the sound scapes and tonight this was really proving difficult. Despite the couple of venue shortcomings the band played a very tight set of some classics and some newer material but when it came down to the time for encore they would not return which resulted in a very disappointed crowd. Either way, we still got a great bunch of songs from the group and I hope they return soon but that they hit a different club.
I had lined out that there were lowlights to the night and I am sad to bring them to the table since it was mainly on the part of the venue and no fault of the band. The room was sizable for a few hundred fans and there was some sort of upstairs lounge to kick back in but from this area you could not see the stage which was one downside. As far as the performance area itself, well it only seemed to have one air conditioner on and this was near the back bar. The general standing area by the stage was incredibly hot and the heat was everywhere and literally making the surroundings both dangerous to ones health and comfort. It was to the point of causing people to flow back and forth to where the air was actually coming from during the bands set instead of allowing them the chance to enjoy the show they had paid decent money for. Topping it all off was inconsistency in the sound the venue afforded the group with too much bottom end where it was not needed and your needing to be dead center to even appreciate the group. I can't see myself attending another show here and hope for their own sake that these issues are worked out if they are to compete with the newly opened Gramercy Theatre and Highline Ballroom venues.
***Publisher's Note-Shortly after this show and the posting of this review, the band announced that longtime singer Anneke van Gersbergen would be leaving the band at the conclusion of the tour, and starting up a solo career this coming August. We at Sea of Tranquility wish her and The Gathering all the success in their upcoming projects, and thank them for the years of quality music they have given us while performing together.
1. Shortest Day
2. In Between
3. Liberty Bell
4. Probably Built in the 50's
5. Even the Spirits Are Afraid
10. In Motion #1
11. Waking Hour
12. Strange Machines
Official Web site: www.thegathering.nl
Official Web site: www.tubring.com