Live Reports

Cathartic resonations with Son Lux at Ancienne Belgique

On Wednesday, American post-rock band Son Lux came to the Ancienne Belgique for the last show of their European tour.

Press photo // Jes Nijjer 2022

Originally created by experimental producer and composer Ryan Lott, the band really took shape when bass player Rafiq Bhatia and drummer Ian Chang joined in 2015. After the release of three full-fledged albums (“Tomorrows I, II and III“) during the pandemic period, the prolific group composed the musical score of Oscar-winning science-fiction movie Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. Like the movie, their music feels like an unrestrained ball of energy with a tinge of strangeness. We were looking forward to seeing their unique sound unfold live.

Anna B Savage – witchy vibes for the opening act

Photo by Michele Faliani, 2023

All dressed up in a blood-red outfit reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale series, British singer/songwriter Anna B Savage exudes an aura of authentic female empowerment. Her last album “in|FLUX” (2023) explores themes like haunting memories (“The Ghost”), healing through sex (“Pavlov’s Dog”), and the invisible pain of inner struggles (“Say My Name”). While Anna harnessed androgynous vocals in her debut album “A Common Turn” (2021), she now embraces a more feminine vocal pattern as an empowering force to convey sensations of fragility. Her show is a subtle mingling of acoustic guitar and vigorous electronic beats that send her and the audience to emotional heights. Pity that her lyrics were sometimes tricky to understand, especially since her frankness is so refreshing at times – see the album’s title track “in|FLUX” “We had sex… I didn’t come”. But her witty interaction with the audience makes up for a lot. As she strums her guitar with tenderness and sensuality, she says, “You’re very quiet. Is it a good quiet?” I guess we’re both enchanted by her charisma and excited by what’s to come.

Son Lux, or the joys of beating intensity

Submerged in blue light, Ryan Lott (keyboard and vocals), Rafiq Bhatia (guitar and bass), and Ian Chang (drums) start their show in minimalist intensity with “Involution” (from “Tomorrows I“). On stage, Lott and Chang feel like the more extrovert chunk of the group, while Bhatia seems quietly introvert – yet no less intense. It’s thrilling to see how, eyes closed and hands folded on his guitar, he’s completely absorbed by Lott’s long, winding piano solo on “Prophecy” (“Tomorrows II“). He’s not alone though. The band’s profound instrumentals have a similar impact on all of us. Son Lux’s art lies in slowly building up a cathedral of melodic sounds, only to suddenly drag us out of our state of flow with an amazing drop. A genuine catharsis that makes some of us utter a high-pitched howl, after “Different Kind of Love” (“Tomorrows III“) for example.

The lights in the audience go on, and Lott lifts up his cup of tea to us. He fondly recalls playing their sixth show ever in the smaller room upstairs, and affirms no venue in the world makes him feel more at home than the AB. Unexpectedly, the narrative turns into a declaration of love to his bandmates. He even sheds a tear introducing their hit “Easy” (“Lanterns“) a song about “the joys of doing new things with old friends.” Luckily, the band also includes new friends in their work, like Anna B Savage. They’ve just released the new single “Pyre” together and Anna makes an occasional entrance to contribute to the vocals.

At the encore, Ryan tells us about the band’s amazing journey recording the score of Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. It was in July 2019 that Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert reached out to the band, convinced that their deep and unrestrained sounds would match with the movie’s dense plot. When reading the script, the band didn’t believe the project would ever become reality – “it was too crazy”. However, they composed one song that came to be the foundation of the entire score, a track “as crazy and beautiful as the movie itself.” And it was with this song, “Unbind,” that the band ended the show in its trademark beating, cathartic resonations.

Again, Son Lux brought us a great night at the Ancienne Belgique!

Setlist: Involution, Vacancy (feat. Anna B Savage), Prophecy, Plans We Made, Honesty, A Different Kind of Love, Easy, Last Light, Pyre (Alarm Bells), Live Another Life, Encore: Unbind.

Check out Son Lux and Anna B Savage on Spotify.

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