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One barrier supergroups must overcome is the fact that, by definition, its members are high-demand artists at the top of their field. The four men in Gone Is Gone are no different; between Queens of the Stone Age, Mastodon, At The Drive-In and more, Troy Van Leeuwen, Troy Sanders, Tony Hajjar and Mike Zarin had only managed to appear together on stage once. That show was in Los Angeles in April, a few months before the hard-rock/post-rock quartet released their self-titled debut EP. While their tour schedule has not proved to be prolific, the group has cranked out tunes at an impressive clip. Tonight, the band celebrated the release of an LP of brand-new music, Echolocation, with their second-ever live appearance. Hosted at the intimate and historic Troubadour in West Hollywood, it was a rare opportunity for die-hard fans of this fledgling band to witness brand new songs and older favorites up-close and personal.
Opening the evening was the noisy post-punk trio Glaare. The local trio pounded through songs that ranged from chaotic to ambient, all led by the powerful vocals of their charismatic lead singer. The opening number, with its pounding rhythms and buzzing industrial synths, proved to be a standout, perhaps only topped by the intense wall of sound that was their closing song. With one EP under their belts, they could be a band to look out for in Los Angeles.
As the crowd swelled to capacity, Van Leeuwen, Sanders, Hajjar and Zarin took to the stage. With his hulking frame and magnificent mane of hair, Sanders was the omnipresent frontman at the center of the storm. Flanked by Van Leeuwen and Zarin, he bounced, strolled and stretched his way to every last corner of the compact Troubadour stage. While the music of Gone Is Gone is heavily geared towards ominous themes, there was no denying the glee on the faces of each member as they performed. Sanders’ vocals seemed to take on a slightly deeper register in the live setting, giving the songs an “enchanted” quality that meshed well with tight metal riffage churning in the background.
Speaking of ominous, that was the mood of the opening track “Sentient,” which coincidentally is also the opening song on Echolocation. Van Leeuwen’s solemn, solitary guitar lines drifted through an ethereal soundscape, before the quartet burst into the songs thrillingly sludgy climax. The beauty of Gone Is Gone is their ability to combine the experimental ambition of post-metal and progressive metal with the power and relatability of classic rock. The third song of the night, “Gift,” exemplified this very quality. One of the band’s most accessible songs, the simple verse/chorus/verse structure rewarded the audience again and again. The Queens of the Stone Age influence of Van Leeuwen made an appearance during the song in the form of a gliding guitar solo and the nifty chord progressions in the post-verse.
After graciously thanking the audience the second of what would be many instances, Sanders asked if it would be okay to play a song off of the EP. “Starlight” is one of the quieter moments on the band’s debut, featuring twinkling guitar riffs, burbling keyboard lines and emotive vocals. The next few songs skewed towards the down-tempo tendencies of the band, but despite the slower pace the group remained as riveting as ever. Van Leeuwen busted out the double-neck guitar starting with “Roads,” which continued the reprieve from the more metallic onslaught of most Gone is Gone songs with a dreamy, delicate opening transition.
“Dublin” is the latest single to be released from Echolocation and proved to be a highlight of the set. Sanders’ entrancing vocals were accompanied by a twinkling guitar-and-keyboard backing, giving it a beautifully layered sonic depth. This song is the ultimate slow-burner, taking a little bit longer to gradually reach its emotion-packed climax than their other similar tracks.
Before the band closed with “Echolocation,” Sanders thanks the audience one last time and joked about the band’s current rate of playing one show per release. He didn’t sound hopeful that the band would perform again 2017, referring to it as their only show of the year (though he did slip up a few moments later and say he hoped to book more performances). Despite rarely being able to perform together, Gone Is Gone had the cohesion of a long-running, full-time band. The professionalism of these musicians is hard to top and with the songwriting and performing ability of the four artists, it is no surprise that they have integral roles in some of the most influential bands in the history of rock and roll.
“Praying From the Danger”
“Stolen From Me”