Artist: The Gathering
Venue: Knitting Factory (New York, NY)
Opener: Giant Squid, Unexpect
Label: The End Records
The Gathering is a band that was the original inspiration behind the whole Gothic Rock & Metal scene many years ago. Sadly a lot of you just read that line and mumbled “who’s The Gathering?”. Well, sometimes the case becomes that the people influenced are far more successful than those that do the influencing in the first place. Bands like Lacuna Coil and Evanescence, who both enjoy considerable levels of acclaim Stateside are actually among the first names to come up when people think of Gothic Rock music. In this region The Gathering instead enjoy a quieter level of success appealing to only those who were turned on to them by a Friend or are up to date musically and know what comes from where. Tonight at the Knitting Factory in New York City, the band would be making what seemed to be their first appearance ever in the City and this venue while a comfortable one is hardly the size that you expect to find a band with such a level of influence to perform in. Holding only a couple of hundred people the place was not packed to the point of discomfort but I have to say that no one in the place was unaware of this band. Everyone in attendance would be a person who had a good background in the music to be performed this evening.
The End Records seemed in command the whole night, as two other groups from their artist roster would be starting off the festivities. The first band would be Unexpect, and we walked in just as they were beginning to assault the stage. I admit that I enjoyed the level of technical chaos that was being delivered by the band whom I referred to as Dimmu Borgir combined with Dream Theater combined with a touch of Frank Zappa uniqueness. It’s difficult to absorb in one sitting and there was clearly a lot of interesting musical ideas being done. If offbeat technical representation is your cup of tea then I feel you will also enjoy this group of Canadians. According to the lovely Leilindel, the bands female vocalist; their The End Records debut is set for middle 2006. I was caught up running around the club and getting a gauge for who was in attendance while Giant Squid was on, and without dismissing their set, I feel I need to sit back and listen to a CD before I pass any judgement on what they are all about. They also managed to be different in their style and as with Unexpect offered the audience a wide scope of varied music to enjoy tonight. Interesting aspects in Giant Squid would be the mixed vocals as well as piano and trombone. Clearly the bands appearing on The End’s roster are groups that enjoy mixing up the common expectations that the audience often has. There is a more experimental level of Gothic going on in Giant Squid I will say that much.
When The Gathering came on the rich atmospheric Rock began as guitarist Rene Ruttan began to play. It was a crisp and tight sound with a lot of passion and as lead singer Anneke van Giersbergen appeared you instantly knew that she was the person who everyone was most interested in seeing tonight. The response was amazing to see as while angelic she is the second singer in the group and similar to Marillion who had Fish and then Steve Hogarth; the band and their music became an entirely different animal to what was originally planned for the course of the group. Anneke totally held the audience in the palm of her hand and was nothing but smiles throughout the whole performance. In 2006 the music of the Gathering is not so much Metal and Gothic at all, but instead a level of Rock that is deeply rooted in Pink Floyd type atmospheric sounds and feels. I admit to being on the new side to the band as well with my real first listen coming courtesy of their quasi-acoustic release “Sleepy Buildings”. Friends had given me samples of “Mandylion” which I can only say is a must-have album and the band is now set to release “Home” on the world as part of their signing with The End Records. Musically this was a wonderful evening as everyone was playing to perfection and the group would deliver a nice long set on top of this. The other thing I took away from this show was the good time that the group seemed to be having while playing for this comfortable audience. Some bands that are larger in scope elsewhere often show disdain for the room or turnout often venting unnecessary comments. It was refreshing to see that The Gathering did not have this issue. I think if offered the chance to enjoy them that the larger public would find some appreciation in what they do for music. It’s hipper and more in sync with Progressive Music at times and would probably reach a larger audience if more music was readily available. I recommend the curious look into the re-issue of “Mandylion” and perhaps the acoustic effort and new release to find a solid representation of what this group can do. While they were influenced by them, there is no fair way to compare what Evanescence does to what Gathering has already done.
For the show Anneke had a little Hedy Lamarr vamp thing going on it seemed and she really seemed moved by the genuine appreciation of her music. The rest of the band were smiles as well, but focused more on performing than playing up to everyone. Make sure you look into them as I surely don’t regret my decision to do so.
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