Sumac and Oxbow at The Dome, London - live review

Californian art-rock masters bring the noise

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“I haven’t seen you for a while,” OXBOW [8] frontman Eugene Robinson growls to a giddy crowd. He’s not kidding – it’s been eight years since the Californians bothered UK shores with their perplexing blend of avant noise-rock; 10 since the release of their last album. In typically esoteric fashion, on a stage dressed with bunches of billowing incense, the set kicks off with the closing number from new album Thin Black Duke. Eugene channels the album’s sinister titular character with his erratic yelps and weaving movements, blending vulnerability with cocksure machismo and overt sensuality. Five out of the eight songs tonight are from the new album, and while they’re well-received, the crowd truly come alive with the outing of old favouriteDown A Stair Backward. Led by de facto bandleader Niko Wenner, Oxbow are still truly adept in the art of submerging you in their world of meticulously crafted drama. How do you follow a band like Oxbow? You don’t. ‘Co-headliners’ SUMAC [6] are faced with the unfortunate task tonight, their uncompromising, bone-rattling sludge sitting in stark comparison with Oxbow’s bold dynamism. While moments of shrill excitement dissolve into puddles of ferocious noise that threaten to shake your brain out of your ears, ultimately, the set fails to reach the thrilling bar set by what came before.