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This Little Underground

Bao Le-Huu takes on Kasabian, Hacienda, Youth Lagoon, Alcest and more

Actually, speaking of soft bellies,there was considerable hype leading up to the show by French metal expansionists Alcest (March 22, Will's Pub) – both public and my own internal kind – based on the moving material heard online. Unfortunately, they're a fraction of the mass, gaze and transcendentalism their music suggests. Live, their proportions are slight and soft in a way that emphasizes their least flattering impulses to the verge of cheese – Velveeta, not Roquefort. Are they the Winger of black metal? Perhaps, at least in concert. Lesson: Maybe you should be realistic about what you'll get from a bunch of French hair farmers.

Totally stealing (and saving) the show was San Francisco opener Deafheaven, whose sound scales the wuthering heights of gale-force post-metal and screamo. They definitely drop a big slab of pure intensity but have the agility, touch and range of post-rockers. Violently forlorn in a way that's sublime, their sonically heavy but unquestionably beautiful music is like a soundtrack for the most epic and severe extremes of the Earth. Live, they come with a force-of-nature velocity that feels like a tornado touching down on the roof above you. And for a guy who looks kinda like a stylishly brooding member of Interpol,singer George Clarke sure can shred a throat properly.

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