Riverside Live In New York

The Polish proggers make their NYC debut.

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Tonight marks Polish band Riverside’s first ever gig in New York City. Unsurprisingly, anticipation in the crowd is high, something that only swells as the gentle intro to Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened By A Hat?) begins to float over the PA.

Basking in blue light, the four-piece then kick into the song proper, frontman Mariusz Duda breaking into a huge smile that remains for the hour the band are onstage. And while tub-thumping drums from the gigs that are taking place in the venues both above and below this middle room at Webster Hall occasionally seep into the atmosphere, they’re unable to displace the sense of hypnotic serenity the band create so effectively during their set.

Whether that’s in the graceful lilt of the opening track or the more rambunctious yet no less spellbinding rumble of Hyperactive, which churns up metal and prog influences into a curious and energetic hybrid of genres, this gig transcends time to stretch across both the past and the future – you’re there, but you’re also not there, lost in the ethereal haze and ambience of their music.

02 Panic Room, from 2007’s third full-length, Rapid Eye Movement, gets the most enthusiastic reception from the fans here. It starts off more full-bodied and bass-heavy than its recorded counterpart, which only accentuates the fragility and tenderness of the track’s last third – the pain in Duda’s voice, despite his smile, fills the room with an elegiac sorrow.

While it’s undoubtedly a highlight of the show, nothing tonight compares to the aching, piano-led sorrow of Conceiving You. As the song progresses, it gradually expands its sound and reach, ebbing and flowing with a gentle rush of emotion that overwhelms both the band and the crowd.

The way in which the songs possess both the band and the crowd means that when Duda’s bass comes unplugged for a while during Saturate Me, it doesn’t matter – he’s still smiling, and the audience are still deeply lost in the song.

Following immediately after that small mishap is the instrumental Reality Dream III, which begins life as a John Carpenter-esque theme tune to some 80s schlock horror movie before exploding into a frenzy of guitars and powerful, chugging riffs. However, by the time the band reach We Got Used To Us, the spell they’ve cast so effectively has broken slightly – its Pink Floyd-y melody melts a little too much into the background, while the moody psychedelia of Escalator Shrine suffers slightly from self-indulgence.

Still, the band manage to salvage it with the encore, a gorgeous rendition of Found (The Unexpected Flaw Of Searching), which overflows with both love and hope.