A tick before midnight on Saturday October 15, brains splattered on the wall, a mix of sweat and beer wet the floor, as a stunned crowd shuffled out of the Bug Jar, eyes-glazed. Such was the aftermath from the headlining set from French trio SLIFT.
Comprised of brothers Jean and Remi Fossat on guitar and bass, and high school friend Canek Flores on drums, SLIFT was rounding the home-stretch of their first ever North American tour. Their most recent release, Ummon, arrived just before the pandemic shutdowns. The set pulled exclusively from that material, though nearly 3 years old, it of course arrived to the sold-out Rochester audience farm fresh. Each note, each beat, every howl, served and consumed with reckless abandon.
After limb-loosening and ear-pleasing sets from local openers The Ginger Faye Bakers and Haishen, the trio took the stage. Jean dialed up an undulating drone from his electronics panel, which sped into an alien beam before the band exploded into “Ummon”. Guitar, drums and bass a raging ball of energy. The crowd responded in kind, jumping, fist pumping, bodies bouncing off bodies, feet stomping on feet, elbows jabbing chests. But there was no time for apologizing, just move or be moved.
Digital patterns and images frenetically displayed behind the band. Like a sonic mood ring, they seemed to match the music’s energy. Reds and whites flashed during the heavier head-banging moments. When “It’s Coming” kicked into a more head-bobbing psychedelic groove, oranges and greys emerged. Mellower still, brought blues and yellows. A meaty “Century on a Satellite” > “Hyperion” mid-set had the band moving freely between high-energy metal, long bass-led grooves, electronics-heavy sections, and slow-developing climaxes. The colorful displays followed all along the way, yellows shifting to oranges intensifying into reds.
When a band calls out their last song, it’s always welcome when that song goes for 15 minutes. A show-closing “Lions, Tigers and Bears” delivered on all fronts. Remi’s incredible bass playing reached a fever pitch, carrying a his brother through frenetic guitar solos and spacey electronics noodling. Flores’ drums built up to one final explosion and the whole ordeal collapsed gloriously. Then one last we’re-not-quite-done-yet droning exploration extended the evening until it all fizzled out for real. At just over an hour it wasn’t enough to sate the packed house, but pleas for an encore went unrewarded. Zut alors!