YOB’S 2019 headlining tour featuring VOIVOD and AMENRA, graced Philadelphia’s Union Transfer on February 5. All three bands have fairly lengthy histories and several albums each, but with very different styles. The show started promptly at 8:00 with Belgian doom-sludge metal band AMENRA. The stage was mostly dark with the exception of occasional white light and the projections that were displayed on screen behind the band. AMENRA uses photography, film and lighting, and their own brand of performance art to get the intention of the music across to their audience.
While most of the band is facing the crowd, lead vocalist Colin H van Eeckhout faces the other direction toward the drummer and back of the stage. He contorts his body with the music, aggressively whipping his head and upper body forward and back. From a leaning back standing level to practically planting his face into his shins. He turns to face the crowd from time to time, but mostly has his back to us throughout the set. An AMENRA performance is really impressive in person, just listening to them in your car doesn’t do the music justice.
Winners of the 2018 Canadian Juno Award for their most recent album The Wake, VOIVOD was the second performance of the night. They played two songs from that record, “Obsolete Beings” and “Iconspiracy,” along with plenty of old favorites for their longtime fans, who were obviously having a great time. VOIVOD was incredibly gracious and kind to everyone, as they reached out multiple times for fist bumps and handshakes for anyone they could reach, band members even played up to fans shooting video on their phones. The old school thrashers finished the set with “Voivod” and of course, the whole crowd sang along, it would be hard not to.
Then it was time for YOB, stoner-doom metal from Oregon. As soon at the first notes were played the crowd could feel the heaviness of this band shaking the room and yet their sound is really chill, almost soothing. Maybe it just felt that way after the first two bands were so aggressive. YOB played one song, “Ablaze” from their critically acclaimed 2018 album, Our Raw Heart. Their songs are fairly long, so they have to choose the short set list carefully. At one point the bassist and backing vocalist Levy Seynaeve from AMENRA performed additional vocals on “Gasping Air”. Apparently he has sang with the band on several nights of this tour.
They ended the awesome show with “Quantum Mystic”. Although initially thinking that this lineup was a complete mismatch, it really does come together when you see the bands back to back. If you haven’t purchased your tickets for this tour, you absolutely should. Click HERE to check out the special merchandise bundles that YOB is offering.
LIVE IMAGES AND WORDS: MEGAN C. BROOKS PHOTOGRAPHY