Music as pain: Amenra live in Bucharest

Almost three years later back on the road to Bucharest to see Amenra. The person responsible is once again Marius Costache at 148 Studio & Label collective. Last time the band played a place called Fabrica. The show was good, but not too many people showed up. Tonight we’re in Bucharest’s finest – Control Club and moments before Valerinne, the special guests for the night, open the show it’s already half full.

I’ve seen the trio (tonight playing with a replacement bassist, who has done great job learning the tracks in the last minute) few times already, but tonight they’re on fire. It seems they’ve kind of put their original, a bit calmer and very melodic, sound aside and have gone louder and harsher. You can feel the bass in your guts, the whole rhythmic section is so thick and guitarist Alexandru’s sound is outstanding. His guitar sound is coming in waves, piercing leads, epic and very memorable melodies, a lot of layering and super creative effecting. It’s perfect, surely the best Valerinne set I’ve heard and definitely the sound they deserve. I look around and I spot Mathieu from Amenra watching the show.

I guess here’s the place to mention you won’t find Amenra hiding in the backstage. All night they are hanging out, helping out the merch guys or as I mentioned above, just enjoying the show.

‘They are studying us, they are looking at the eyes of the people who they are playing for tonight. They look deep in our eyes…’, a friend told me and I can fully agree.

The second Valerinne are off the stage Amenra’s techs are on. The band’s insignia projected on the screen behind and a windy drone starts blowing through the PA. It’s like amplified ambience of another place. The more you’re listening to it the more isolated you start feeling. Right now we’re no longer in the venue, but in Amenra’s temple instead. The people on stage are not preparing the gear, they are preparing us for а ceremony. I exchange few messages with a person, who I know as one of the biggest Amenra followers, she says she’s sorry she can’t be there, I respond she is there. The Church of Ra is whole and complete… everytime, everywhere.

Few moments later Mathieu starts playing ‘The Pain It Is Shapeless’, the world is slowly fading out and when the whole band enters the song it’s completely gone. Colin, as usually positioned in the center with his back at the audience, is moving, living and breathing the sound only to exhale through his painful screams.

‘Why do you scream?’, an interviewer from PrettyInNoise TV asked him last year, ‘I’m screaming because I want to fight off the things that cast shadow on my existense, that cause harm…’ That’s what he answered and now he does this for us. He’s the hands like claws that dig deep in us to grab our hurt and take it away. It hurts, but that’s the price of purification. After a while I’m not able to follow and think about the pieces Amenra play in their set. There surely is Razoreater, Boden, mighty Nowena. It’s all one monumenthal soundscape, undisturbed by anything but the music. The sound tonight is huge and perfect, and Amenra as a band have immensely grown a lot asince the last time I saw them. They’re playing with the dynamics as gods and their set ends up not only being massive, but really organic and moving. Whenever there’s a pause the drones come back to comfort us a bit and then the procession is on again.

I sometimes observe the people around and they are all captivated, united by the common pulse Amenra are emiting through their raw sound. We feel like a human sculpture and the sound is a rain of eternal stones falling over us, hurting us, but disappearing and stealing all the pain. When the trees of Silver Needle Golden Nail starts spinning and the sub bass abyss is fully unleashed upon us I know it’ll soon be over. And few seconds later it really is gone. The band leaves the stage immediately, Colin rushes through the crowd, he is drained, his eyes are red, he has our pain now.

We’ve been once again purified.

Amenra is not a band. Amenra is hurt.

Angel S.

Freelance journalist and full-time copywriter from hell. Playing ambient & drone music as Mytrip, teaching Sound Art, booking shows with For The Kids & Amek Collective. Always in for a cup of coffee.