If you’d extend your memory just a bit into the past, about a month or so ago, you’ll remember that we’re, for the second year in a row, sponsoring the excellent Post. Festival down in Indianapolis. This year’s set-list is as packed as last year, sporting some of the best post-rock bands from around the world, not just the US. What you might not know, however, is that this lineup is drawing Heavy Blog members from far and wide. Nick, Jimmy, David, and other members of the extended Heavy Blog Family are certainly attending while the confluence of so many of my virtual loved ones is leading me to hatch my own plans as well. Flying over the ocean is a bit harder, personally and logistically, but I can’t help but set my mind free into the future and think of what might be.
And so, this post was born. To get you as excited as we are for this festival, Nick and I have come together to shine a light on the specific bands we’re most looking forward to seeing at the festival itself. Keep in mind however that literally every entry on the overall lineup is amazing and presents an opportunity to see young, exciting, and talented names within the post-rock scene doing their thing (namely, laying on thick layers of reverb for all of us to bask in). There will also be great beers, good company, Heavy Blog merch (!) and a chance to finally challenge me to a duel and lose. So what are you waiting for? Check out the list below and don’t forget: Post. Festival takes place on the 4th and 5th of October, at The Irving Theatre in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can head on right here to pre-order your tickets. See you there?
Bands Eden Is Excited to See
When I wrote my latest deep dive about the religiosity of the New Wave of American post-rock, Ranges was foremost in my mind. This is not just because their music evokes this feeling of the grand, the mighty, the elusive, and the divine more than perhaps any other band (save Old Solar perhaps) but also because they stand smack in the middle of the scene. Through their work with A Thousand Arms, the folks at Ranges have irrevocably changed what and how this scene works, infusing it with a spirit of DIY, familial empathy, and professionalism. Their upcoming release is also a bold, dark, new step for them and I have no doubt they’ll be playing some of it live. Lastly, there’s also an undeniable element of technicality and sound design wizardry to their music and I can’t wait to see that manifested in a live setting.
And yes, it also helps that their music is some of my favorite out there. I fully expect their show to be larger than life and I can’t wait to be swept up in the complex emotions which surround their music and the band’s grander context in the scheme of things.
Driving Slow Motion
Arda, Driving Slow Motion‘s 2019 release, is one of my favorite post-rock albums in a long time. It manages to be ethereal and ponderous while still maintaining a sense of momentum that allows it to feel light-footed and agile. This should make for a perfect live performance; heavy-hitting where it needs to be, wholly trans-formative, but also engaging. This is crucial for seeing post-rock live. Too much introspection and atmosphere can often lead to a stifled performance, leaving the audience disengaged and introspective rather than a part of an audience, experiencing something together. With Arda’s clever touch on song and album structure, I fully expect this to be no problem at all. Like a sleek vessel, I fully expect their live show to be carefully piloted, engineered to evoke the many feelings which their album conjures. Also, how many times do you get to see a Tolkien themed band live, especially outside the somewhat stale circles of folk metal?
Baikonur‘s booking for Post. Fest is one of the biggest and most pleasing surprises of the year for me and one which speaks volumes of both the band’s and the festival’s dedication. Hailing all the way from Chile, these post-rock veterans released an excellent album in 2018 titled Nihil Per Saltum (an actually clever use of Latin, meaning “nothing without jump” or, more figuratively, “everything in flow”). This release channeled the darker element of post-rock, also drawing often on post-metal, to create a hauntingly effective album. Seeing these guys branch out from their native land reaching a wider audience is a joy and I fully expect these veterans to put on a magnificent show. As I mentioned above, their attendance also showcases really how much Post. Fest is intent on being more than just a collection of bands playing in the same room together but rather a nadir around which the community organizes and expands. Giving bands from around the world their shot in a wider market is one of the best ways to accomplish that.
Now this, this is the set that I expect to fully break me. Other than maybe Holy Fawn, Spotlights is the heaviest of the festival’s headliners, blending their post-rock with doom, sludge, and post-metal. This year’s release, Love & Decay, is one of the most completely crushing releases I’ve heard. This means that it doesn’t just attack you down a single vector. Instead, it picks and chooses its avenues of approach, hitting you with powerful vocals, fragile atmosphere, cavernous chords, and a scintillating production. All of these in a live setting should be magnified, creating an aural onslaught that’s going to be tough but exquisite to bear.
Bands Nick Is Excited to See
Since I can’t write about all of these bands, I will have to settle for this small collection I’m particularly looking forward to. Ironically, several of these groups are actually local/regional New England bands who I know plenty about but haven’t actually seen live for a confluence of reasons (the chief ones being that I’m lazy and old and don’t like to be out late on weeknights anymore, especially if the show isn’t close to where I work currently). What won’t be conveyed below though is what I’m really looking the most forward to from attending my first Post. Festival, which is getting to see a ton of people in the US post community, including those I’ve met before and can’t wait to see again, those who I’ve admired and respected for years and am greatly anticipating seeing them in person, and all of the artists and fans I’m not already familiar with who I will inevitably bond with. Having written about the “community” for years now, what I really cannot wait for is to finally have a golden opportunity to see it up close and immerse myself in it.
Pray For Sound
It’s particularly strange to think on it now, but MA’s Pray For Sound was one of the first post-rock bands Eden and I got to geek over together (and certainly one of the first posts either of us wrote with the “Post Rock Post” moniker) for their record Dreamer. We enjoyed both that and their follow-up, 2016’s Everything Is Beautiful, but I have to admit that it wasn’t until they released last year’s stripped down, fascinating, and at times haltingly pretty Waiting Room that they became a band I knew I had to keep my eye on. I expect their Post. Fest set to feature very little, if any, of that album given its mostly acoustic nature, but what interests me the most is to potentially hear some material from their recently recorded but yet to be released new album. Either way, those attending should prepare themselves for some classic and expertly-executed cinematic post-rock that’ll knock you on your ass and get your endorphins flowing.
I learned about New Hampshire’s Girih around the same time I imagine many of you who read this site did when we premiered a track/video from their debut album Eigengrau last year. I was immediately struck by the band’s crushing and emotive post-metal power, immediately calling to mind Russian Circles. As our very own David Zeidler put it in his write-up of the album though, “But, dare I say (wince! cringe!), Girih is less mechanical and injects the formula with more tangible emotion and engaging delivery.” I have to agree with the man here. RC are highly proficient beasts, but a band like Girih succeeds because they’re able to take what bands like RC have built and find a way to breathe new life into it. These dudes aren’t just heavy in the ways most post-metal bands are. Their songs are constructed in such a way that the heaviness can be felt through your entire mind, body, bones, whatever. It hits really fucking hard, okay? The band will be one of the first to take the stage on Day Two early in the afternoon, so if you need any more reason to get your butt to the venue from the start, I don’t have it for you.
Immediately following Girih on Day Two will be a very different kind of post-y band, in more ways than one. Coming from a sleepy suburban town in MA only a few miles away from where I live now, Circus Trees are an incredibly impressive young band of three sisters writing and playing music with maturity and depth way beyond their years. Seriously, these three are still in high school and ripping out emotionally-drenched post-y slowcore like seasoned veterans, all the while still traipsing through the seemingly neverending nightmare that is teenager-dom. It seems wherever they go and whatever other more-established acts they come into contact with they pick up more and more respect and cred along the way. Basically they are way cooler than I have ever been and probably you as well. So you better believe that I’ll be wanting see how they do in an environment like this.
Sidenote: they’re currently raising money to help fund their road trip to get to Indianapolis and back, and you should seriously consider helping them out!
Of the five bands I have listed here, Arizona’s Holy Fawn are the only one I’ve had the privilege to see play once already, which happened last month during their first east coast tour with Covet and Vasudeva. You’d think that would perhaps blunt my intense interest to see them again so soon. You would be wrong. So very, very wrong. Not only was Death Spells one of my very favorite albums of 2018, but seeing them live in the intimate venue that is Great Scott only intensified my great admiration for the band. If you have not yet had the pleasure of witnessing them yourself, all I can say is to prepare yourself for all of the incredible emotion and energy of them on record to come through and then pick you up and shake you violently. Holy Fawn live is a goddamn revelation, one that I am beyond excited to witness again (not least of which because they didn’t even play the song I was most looking forward to hearing, “Yawning,” in their abbreviated opening set). Not only that, but the guys are about as gracious and humble a group as you’ll ever meet. I can guarantee that they’ll be bringing the house down for their Saturday night set, which will hopefully not completely drain me emotionally for the final band on my list…
When I first saw the final lineup for this year’s Post. Fest, I’m pretty sure I audibly gasped when I saw the name of the band at the top of the list. Though I only jumped on the O’Brother train with the release of their last LP, the eminently dark and excellent Endless Light, they have since quickly become one of my automatic go-to’s whenever I’m in need of powerful and emotional rock I can howl along to. I’ve wanted to see them play live for years now, but for whatever reason the stars have never quite aligned. Better late than never then. O’Brother are closing out night 2 for a damned good reason. They’re an act that has the incredible ability to stretch musically across a ton of different genres and bring in many of the best aspects of each. It’s emotional, it’s dark, it’s complex, it’s powerful, it’s hooky, and it’s just the perfect kind of musical salve I need. And since this is a stop on their 10th anniversary tour of their debut album, the cherished The Death of Day, fans can likely expect to hear the band bring out the entirety of that record plus other fan favorites (and, if we’re lucky, maybe a taste of what’s to come from their next album).