Live Gig Review and Photos by: Zenae Zukowski
It has been over five years since the Irish Post Rockers God is an Astronaut toured across North America. Finally, after a long wait, they have managed to afford a short ten date trek across the states. Rumor said this could be their last run in North America due to the difficulties it is to afford the trip. Hopefully, after their positive turnout, and dedicated fan base they will one day change their minds. The tour was in support of their 2015 album ‘Helios | Erubus.’ They managed to stop in a few big cities such as Massachusetts, Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin Tx, Nashville, etc.. and concluded their run at the Big Apple, New York City on September 17 at the Highline Ballroom.
When I arrived at the venue, I did not expect to see a massive line outside the door. It was an impressive line, despite me asking many of my friends if they were going to this show and they said to me, “who?” Along with making jokes such as “oh, that’s where God is.” For those that do not know who they are, you should listen to them. Post-Rock for me is an escape from Metal music, and well the perfect blend to just clear my mind and relax with the tunes. The instrumentals relax me, similar to how Jazz or Classical music would relax one in their respected time periods. Obviously, the music is different, and well God is an Astronaut is one of the “lesser known” acts in North America than the others such as Explosions in the Sky, If These Trees Could Talk, and This Will Destroy You.
However, many who do know these innovative Space Rockers would be aware that it was 2002’s ‘The End of the Beginning’ that started it all. It led them to create their own record label entitled Revive Records, as they had (and continue to have) the creative freedom to write an album that was initially written to say goodbye to the music industry. Here is something to keep in mind regarding Metal, God is an Astronaut and Cradle of Filth have a mutual interest, as they are both fans of Clive Barker’s film “Nightbreed.” Cradle of Filth released the 2000 album ‘Midian’ which had everything to do with that movie. God is an Astronaut, on the other hand, depict their name from a direct quote from the film.
Moving forward to their final performance on September 17 in New York City, there was something unique about that long line of fans. The fans were incredible, especially one woman who flew from the opposite side of the world to see them. She came from Australia, as she didn’t even want to nor had any intention of flying into New York. She noticed that they were performing there, and according to her, it’s difficult for bands like God is an Astronaut to head out to Australia, so this commendable woman flew to New York just to see them. I bow to her as it is fans like these that make me enjoy writing about shows and interacting with people filled with such musical devotion.
I was pleased to see such a positive turnout of this show as the place was packed from the get-go and there were no opening acts. As fans gathered together, strangers shared a table to make new friends and enjoy the moment of the band’s triumphant return. After a half hour or so goes by, the lights turned off, and the stage looked as though it was set from outer-space. Now visually there, the lighting is radiating and magnificent. When taking photos of such an astronomy look, it was a bit challenging as the band’s faces appeared in the darkness. Regardless, the lights spoke of energy that enhanced the music, as it took the audience on a captivating musical journey.
They started off with no introduction as the music spoke for itself with “Pig Powder.” After this tune, they thanked the crowd and moved into “Echoes” followed by “Vetus Memoria.” The lights continued to move with the direction of the music as the set continued with “Worlds in Collision.” The band enjoyed the energy from the crowd as they were happy to be back as they moved into “Helios | Erebus.”
As the set continued to hypnotize the audience they progressed to one of their earliest songs with “From Dust to the Beyond” from 2002’s ‘The End of the Beginning’ as fans cheered. Shortly after this track, they went into a surprising snippet of Russian Circles’ “Geneva.” As the mood was in the right zone, the band appreciated the fans so much that they dedicated the next track “Fragile” to them as they showcased their gratitude from the crowd despite their five-year absence. After this moment it was time for “Centralia” from ‘Helios | Erebus,’ as they explained how this was the first song written for the album.
My mood drastically changed during the next piece where I tried to hold back from the tears that were about to crawl down my face. The song was “Forever Lost” from 2005’s ‘All Is Violent, All is Bright’ as they described that this track was written based on a loss of a family member. They explained how the song was written to remember the happy times and that nothing lasts forever, as they emphasized that we should all keep that in mind. Hearing this tune live sparked something inside of me where I wanted to make peace of my own with people I care about deeply. It was that energy that can only prove how live music holds such an unspeakable power. I have heard this song several times before, but it was this moment where I choked up, and tears arrived. Finally, it was time for the final tune as they mentioned, “we are going to pretend this is our last song, even though we have two more after that.” There was a pause, and they continued to say “this is our last song,” which made the crowd chuckle as they “closed” the set with “Agneya.”
It was time for their fake encore, as no one left the stage when they mentioned how the last three weeks was a great time for them on the tour. They asked for the house lights to go on for a house photo, as everyone raised their arms in hopes to be visible. Shortly after, they mentioned how encores just weren’t cool anymore as they moved into the next tune “Red Moon Lagoon” from 2013’s ‘Origins.’ The audience begged for “Frozen Twilight,” however they moved into “Suicide by Star” instead from 2005’s ‘All Is Violent, All Is Bright.’ This tune was supposed to be the final track of the night, however, since it was the last night of their tour they gave New York an additional song and closed with “Zodiac” from 2008’s self-titled album.
Seeing God is an Astronaut is an emotive experience, where everyone remained glued to the music. I think the only cell phone use I noticed were fans taking video and photos, which is pretty much standard. The lighting, energy, and music were spot on that night, and I hope they will decide to find funding to return.