Suuns: Montreal’s headiest muso-nerds bludgeon Austin into submission, one genre at a time
A sound like an air-raid siren is wailing out from communist-décored Red 7. It’s nigh-on impossible to penetrate the fog of din as Suuns assume control of a startled-looking gaggle of sun-scorched revellers at Texas’ ‘urban Glastonbury’, and 100 eardrums edge ever closer to tinnitus. Despite the imposing arsenal of sounds on their debut album, ‘Zeroes QC’ – binding electronic dissonance and rock’n’roll hedonism into something compellingly avant-garde yet giddily fun – no-one is quite prepped for this; live, Suuns are overwhelming.
“When I was 11, I went to see Metallica at a huge arena in Montreal,” recalls singer/guitarist Ben Shemie. “It changed the way I thought about everything. It was the first time I’d had my head taken off by live music, the first time I realised how different the live and recorded experience can be.”
That remaining trace of Hetfield and Ulrich is certainly one of the startling elements of tonight’s show. For music that fucks shit up in a way that could potentially be misperceived as ‘highbrow’, there’s a refreshing sense of enraged showmanship about Shemie as he crumples into a heap of spasming limbs and Ian Svenonius-esque gurns.
“I spent much of my formative gigging life in tiny jazz basements watching improvisation,” adds synth-man Max Henry. “Those shows were intense, but in very much their own way.” That’s another key facet to Suuns’ assault. With all members schooled in jazz performance at McGill University, Canada’s answer to Harvard, here are four chaps who onstage are completely unshackled. It’s this breadth of ability and vision that takes them from blistering Shellac-like nihilism to kraut-math so perilous it’d leave Battles baffled.
“We’ve toured with Crystal Castles and made people dance, and next month we’re on the road with The Black Angels,” says Ben. “I want to be able to tackle all these sounds and ideas in a way that doesn’t feel tokenistic, but like we’re immersed in each thing. The dream is to wow disparate audiences.” Judging by tonight’s Texas-toppling show, they’re already living the dream.
This article originally appeared in the April 2nd issue of NME