Collapsing Scenery Gave Me A Full Sensory Experience Review+Photos: Collapsing Scenery at Fraternal Order Of Eagles 5/7/22
LOS ANGELES, CA- Have you ever caught a band for the first time and had your senses so overwhelmed – in a good way- that it leaves an indelible impression? That’s how I got introduced to Collapsing Scenery and its music. Back in 2017, they performed an opening set for The Big Pink at Cheetahs that did just that. Their eclectic, experimental electronic rock, coupled with a barrage of flashing and distorted lighting, hooked me right from the get-go, and I’ve been spinning their records (literally spinning as I ended up buying a bunch of their vinyl) ever since. When they released their album Stress Positions in 2019, I was hoping to get another chance to catch them live to re-live that visceral 2017 experience, but life got in the way.
Fast forward to the current day, and sitting in my inbox was an email notifying me that they had released a new 5-song EP titled Acid Casual. As soon as I hit play, the sense memory of my experience with them came flooding back. The chaotic weirdness, yet carefully orchestrated, 2 minutes and 46 seconds of “You Already Know” had me hooked. The way the melody’s harmonies float over the gradually crescendoing cinematic instrumentation was hypnotic.
Reggie Debris and Don De Devore (the founding members of Collapsing Scenery) have never been ones to be limited by genres. What makes their music so appealing to me is how eclectic it is. For those who like to put things in boxes, the variety of sonics may be hard to digest. I mean, on Acid Casual, the two waltz from indie rock (“Body Snatched”), to house music (“True Levelers”) to dark wave (“Bootlickers”) all in a matter of 5 songs. Personally, I love being taken on that kind of sonic journey.
When I heard that they would be performing at the Fraternal Order Of Eagles location in Eagle Rock in support of their latest effort, I knew I had to check them out again.
Opening for Collapsing Scenery was the band Patriarchy… and man. Talk about leaving a killer first impression. If you love dark synthwave, you are absolutely going to love Patriarchy and what they bring to their live performance. As their name might suggest, Patriarchy’s music is filled with politically and socially charged subject matter focusing on self-empowerment. In a 2019 article in GhostCultMag.com, Actually Huizenga, Patriarchy’s front-woman, stated:
“The songs […] are about me, Actually Huizenga, a female human, dealing with labels and expectations thrown upon my body, while also enjoying the bacchanalia and joyous prosperity that I have as an American in a First World situation. These songs playfully reveal experiences (with varying viewpoints of predator and prey) that I’ve had on the spectrum between Reverence and Rape.”
Pretty heady stuff, but man… it makes for some killer music.
Patriarchy’s live performance was as intense as their music and Actually, with her no-holds-barred, “I could give a f*ck”, attitude, was a breath of fresh, rebellious fresh air. I loved watching her perform and snarl lyrics out with a frightening vengeance. They also incorporated a bit of a dramatic flare with some choreography towards the end of their set with Actually engaging her guitarist in a sensual dance that ended with her essentially getting choked to death at its conclusion. Shock factor notwithstanding, it was a real meaningful contrasting image given the power that Actually projected throughout the set. Pretty deep social commentary if you ask me, leaving me speechless and contemplative all at the same time.
Reggie Debris has always emphasized the visual component of Collapsing Scenery’s artistry, and their live performance brings that to the forefront. I wondered to myself why they chose the venue that they did, and in retrospect, I surmised that it was because they had more control over their performance environment. It was a conference hall that they were able to customize to their creative needs, installing hanging white fabric sheets around their multilevel stage and positioning various lighting installments throughout the room to illuminate them in ways that perhaps a traditional concert venue could not.
Collapsing Scenery’s 9-song set covered tracks from their entire repertoire, going as far back as their 2016 track “Metaphysical Cops”. I can’t confirm it, but I think they may have performed a few new tracks as well. I was expecting a few more songs from their more recent releases, but to be honest, I was just excited to see them perform again, and watch their art come to life.
As the music and lights swirled, I was lulled into a hypnotic zone. While the images below were captured when I timed and caught optimal lighting conditions, a majority of the performance was done in the shadows. The mood was gloriously heavy and woozy. I loved watching Reggie lose himself in the music. Early in the performance, it was like the music possessed him when he torn down the fabric sheets that surrounded him. It was like he was freeing himself of that which was confining him. I’m not sure whether that was an intentional choreographed act or whether it was just a matter of him getting rid of a something that just in his way, but it left an impression. When lay on the stage pulsing his body to the music, you could almost feel your pulse match time with his.
I’m not sure when Collapsing Scenery will be performing again, but if you ever want a full sensory experience with a killer soundtrack, you need to make sure you head out to one of their shows. Trust me on this.
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