Thursday, September 22, 2016

Concert Review: September Mourning at Fubar in St. Louis September 14, 2016 -Photos and words by Danny Nichols

Rock music has a long and proud tradition of being a visual medium as much a sonic one.  The Alice Cooper Band became as notorious for the drama unfolding on stage as they were their songs.  KISS took over the world by taking this to the next level.  King Diamond, Slipknot, Gwar, WASP, and a billion other bands soon followed the blue print.  

A band can, and maybe should, look different than their audience, be surrounded in mystique and offer a show beyond just the notes they play.  Music is entertainment and any steps taken to enhance this entertainment are welcome.

At some point, most notably during the emergence of grunge in the early 90s, the idea gained currency if a band had any sort of costumes or a stage show, it was to be viewed as a gimmick intended to distract the audience from the band’s lack of quality.  To many, rock-n-roll was either music or theater, but could not be both.

I am a Nirvana fan, and have never held a grudge against them for killing the guitar solo or causing the paradigm shift away from theatrics.  Still, given a choice in concerts between guys in flannel shirts sitting on a stool or space aliens shooting rockets out of their guitars, I make zero apologies for choosing the latter.  You can make a great song better with explosions, and a great band better with costumes. 

September Mourning has a concept, and this concept turned what would have been a very good rock show into a great one.   Vocalist Emily Lazar created the character of September Mourning.  

September is a former human endowed with grim reaper powers.  September has been tapped to harvest souls by the demonic Fate, who presides over the realm of the dead.  However, retaining a sense of morality, she instead uses her power to grant second chances to those dying deemed worthy.

From the beginning this was planned as a multimedia creative project which would present the story both in music and comics.  Legendary comic creator Marc Silvestri was brought in to both write and publish the comic and Lazar set about recruiting musicians who could transform her vision into both an album and a stage show. These musicians are now known by their character names Riven, Wraith, Stitch, and Shadou.
September Mourning’s sound is very reminiscent of Finnish symphonic metalers Nightwish, only slightly less symphonic and slightly more electronic.  The music, especially the drumming, also reminded me of Ghost, much beyond the similarity of both bands featuring costumed musicians.  

The beats were straightforward and largely absent of fills, but powerful and making superb use of negative space.  The guitar riffs were not always fast or complex, but were extraordinarily heavy and delivered with precision and impact.  Lazar commanded the stage with her operatic vocals as she performed the character of September.  

The costumes were striking, with the ghostly white September backed by a band whose look would not be out of place in the darkest depths of Mordor.  The songs would have been epic on their own, the theatrics made them even more so.
I hope September Mourning continues to be discovered and appreciated, so one day this sonic theater can be appreciated on the giant stage it deserves. 
Lazar and bassist Shadou
Guitarist Riven and September
Guitarist Wraith and September
September and Shadou
September Mourning
Drummer Stitch

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