As promised, I was in the crowd for the New Oblivion + Mirrored Hell + Aurat show on Monday night. Well, at least crowd adjacent. Unlike last Friday here with Modern Color, where a thrashing pit with a height minimum of 6’3 reigned, this show was more relaxed. Everyone wore their best outfits and gothic techno by guest DJ Penitence played in between sets.
The show began with New Oblivion, an enthusiastic band with a punchy, fast attitude. With a singer screaming every heartfelt word and a center-stage bassist that kept giddily smiling, the band set the fun and intense energy for the rest of the night.
It surprised me a lot when the singer said that this was their first show. Maybe their stage banter was a little nervous, but their playing was tight. If they had said they played there every week, I would have believed it.
The set took me a few songs before reminding me of Mission of Burma. Powerful drum strikes follow a throat, passionate yell around the small room. The use of traditional four-piece punk sounds combined with a rhythm guitar loaded with dreamy chorus and reverb brought a lot to this short performance. Every song felt so large, like they were setting a scene behind them. A traveling grey tapestry. I’m incredibly excited to see what comes from this band. The set ended and Penitence brought back a heavy kick drum for people in layered leather to try an dance to.
With green lights surrounding the stage, it was Mirrored Hell’s turn to play. In 80’s punk regalia, Sam delivered practiced lyrics, slightly more aggressively than in the recordings. In the chorus of Letters from Space, the word space was a short yell, sort of like a chant.To Sam’s left, Jesse played guitar with a tucked chin and eyes closed while delivering long, glamy solos, clearly living for moments like this. The band was as put together live as their ep.
Mirrored Hell played through their four released songs with a new one thrown in half way through. The tracks on their self titled ep comfortably rely on the same tempos throughout each song. This new track was braver. There were breakdowns, mood changes, and a chance in the middle to hear a talented bassist louder than anybody else.
I don’t see a version, live or recorded, that’s better for this band. Filled with washy effects, this band has so much potential when they enter a studio. And nothing is left out on stage either. Instead, the uncontrollable aspects give this band even more. The drums that punch so closely on BandCamp hurl themselves over the stage at you in-person.
After the show, I went over the buy a t-shirt and was able to talk to Sam for a couple of seconds. The singer had just moved to Pittsburgh and came back for this one show. Apparently, the rest of the band had written this new song weeks back and after returning to Boston, quickly created lyrics to it. According to this brief conversation while loud music played and I stumbled through my banking app to Venmo the band, there are six new songs in the making. With Sam no longer in Boston, the vocals will likely be recorded separately.
When the music stopped and sounds from the stage began again, someone in a leather head dress and holding a candle slowly made their way through the room. The best thing I can say about Aurat is this: when a bassist with a funky mustache comes on stage and starts making sounds on a computer, you know the show will at least be incredibly fun. The perfect combo was completed by a talented dramatic singer on their knees singing in Urdu. After a few darkwave techno tracks, the rest of the band filled the stage into a four-piece group, while keeping the same California-esque mystique sound.
Aurat’s mystical music was the perfect tie-up to a beautiful night of post-punk. New Oblivion had loosened us up and showed us something new. Mirrored Hell then surrounded us in sound. Now we were in this new world and Aurat was leading us through it.
Every member of the group was incredibly unique. The lead singer, Azeka, was dramatic, with a big and controlling stage presence. Nathalie, the guitarist and other singer, was stiff and intense, dancing in jerked motions and smoothly transitioning from an almost child-like voice to a scream bordering on screeching in just one line.
Gil, who started the set doing production then moved on to bass was a smiley figure. In a style of music that relies heavily on a solid bass line, Gil’s skill shone through.
I was lucky enough to be standing close to the side of the stage. Otherwise, Victor’s dum playing might have been hidden from view. With a furrowed brow and a huge grin, Victor delivered some of the most controlled drum playing I’d ever seen. In the same way that Kevin Haskins from Bauhaus sounds like his biggest influences are drum machines, Victor’s controlled hits sound like he was inspired by a compressor. It was clear they were hearing things with volume I wasn’t and was providing a great final product for the audience.
I’m thankful my first experience with this band was live. Especially in a comfortable room like O’Brien’s. Otherwise, I could have missed the characters that make this totemic sound. Because as a whole, they sound like Aurat. A collective sound that is the sum of all its parts, building its own house in a neighborhood of similar genres.
And just like that, the show was over and platform boots made their ways toward the green line after finishing their drinks.
It’s shows like this that are not only energizing, but pieces of hope for a genre and for a specific Boston energy. As the train clumsily and loudly attempts to make back to the station in one piece, I’m checking out New Oblivion’s Bandcamp and imagining what this new collection from Mirrored Hell will reveal about a band with a lot of potential. I also have a new darkwave band in my Spotify playlists. Things are looking good.