As it is custom at certain venues during weekends, it is an early Friday night gig kick-off at Highbury & Islington’s The Garage. However, as there are only two bands on the bill they generously share equally their time slots so both bands have ample time to allow bands and audience to fully engage in their expansive absorbing brands of post-rock spiritual instrumentalism supplied by My Sleeping Karma, and the stoner rock toned hazy pysch of headliners Colour Haze.
As My Sleeping Karma emerge on stage the sold-out show has already filled to a good sized welcome. Having recently released their first live album Mela Ananda and with the promise of a slightly altered live set they still successfully fulfill their main self-confessed aim of establishing an ‘‘emotional structure’’ to their live experience. The quiet slow template of many of their songs builds to gargantuan levels as swathes of sweeping majestic soundscapes surround the venue.
With added backdrop of an array of images including stars, images of earth, among other arty clips, it’s an absorbing visual and sound experience. And like their songs the band grow in engagement as their set progresses. By the midway point the venue is rammed and the band feed on the crowd’s energy as bassist Matthias Vandeven occasionally, in-between songs, lurches towards the front stage with arm lofted upwards acknowledging the audience’s participation and influential vibe. And quite rightly My Sleeping Karma receive a rapturous response throughout as well as when they complete their absorbing set and depart.
No matter the ardent time and effort spent on keeping an eye out and researching what is going in the musical world, there are always bands which seem to escape or bypass one’s attentions. Colour Haze fit into that category for this reviewer so this results in being my first live and listening experience of headliners Colour Haze.
With a bright multi-coloured and heady swirling psychedelic backdrop set to a mix of sixties inspired, shoegaze pysch, stoner rock legends Kyuss-like fuzzy guitar tones, and Neu!’s propulsive beats, they are at their best when all these influences converge to create a dense flurry of sound. Although vocals are used they drift around rather than offer any hook to pull you in so instead rely on Stefan Kogleck nifty guitar riffs. And it is the fuzzy stoner rock tones that are the highlight. They are however, least effective when occasional songs meander along with finger picking guitar without any seemingly purpose or structure.
Colour Haze fans are clearly enjoying their return and there are elements in their songs which allow me to appreciate and understand why have they built up a following. But their occasional drifts into plodding oblivion prevent sustained pulling power. However, both bands styles do complement each other as an ideal tour pairing for an enjoyable evening.