April 6, 2019, Sucy-En-Brie (near Paris), France
In a small city called Sucy-En-Brie near Paris, a very special event took place on April 6th, 2019. A festival called HEART SOUND gathered seven bands and about 600 visitors to celebrate some special gigs and to collect money to donate it to “Ensemble contre les Leucémies”, a local nonprofit organization fighting leukemia created in 1998. This organization supports families that need to fight the disease with a family member. Not only financially, but also by creating awareness about leukemia and providing information about what you can do (like registering for the marrow donor file).
None less than the Norwegians of LEPROUS decided to make this event even more special by playing a very special shuffle show. Four French bands and another two Scandinavian bands completed the line-up.
Unfortunately, due to technical problems within the venue, the doors could open only at 5 p.m., so the festival started with a delay of two hours. This was the worst case. No one would wish this to happen to a festival. Especially to one that organizes all this to support the fight against a sneaky disease, consisting of volunteer staff members. Everyone was professional and all bands accepted their playing time to be limited to less than one hour including soundcheck. Furthermore, the end of the festival was postponed to 1 a.m.
The first band was PROMETHEAN, a symphonic death metal band from Paris. They started their gig immediately as the venue was opened for the fans, using every second of their playing time to the fullest. The visitors were very dedicated from the first moment and headbanged along immediately. The band’s vocalist was very passionate and left a notable impression, just like the virtuous guitar work. Promethean really lived up to their job as the opening act.
Next on stage were STÖMB, a djent band from France who gained some success with the recent past. Obviously they have some fans abroad as well, and many fans travelled from far away to see them live. They confidently entered the stage, opening with some midtempo tracks. These were really brute neckbreakers, making the audience headbang at instance, really heating up the mood. But, apart from this, there were some catchy melodic tunes and effective moody post-rock attitudes were presented, too. Within this short time they were able to create an electrifying atmosphere. Well done!
THE DALI THUNDERING CONCEPT is another French djent band. So the fans of this genre really can’t complain, they were served to the fullest at this festival. Their music actually is a bit brutal and contains many deathcore elements. No doubt about them knowing how to make an audience jump and mosh. They were furious on stage. They are a very good and entertaining live band that knows how to make their fans freak out.
VOLA, the hyped Danish-Swedish merger was the first international band on stage. They tried to make the soundcheck shorter (as all bands were supposed to ), but they couldn’t. The quality of their gig was of bigger meaning to them. So after a longer time they started their set with “Smartfriend” from their latest album “Applause Of A Distant Crowd” (2018). According to the respectable amount of fans they gathered in the past few years, it is time for a new album, the VOLA fans urgently need new stuff to listen to. Vocalist and front man Asger Mygind gave the audience an impression of his fancy guitar skills as well as his proficient vocal performance.
“Starburn”, a song from their debut album, was up next. With captivating hook lines combined with heavy-weight Meshuggah vibes, all paired with their own creative input, VOLA were able to stun the audience at Heart Sound. They cannot really show their full potential at just one gig because to really understand them. You have to dig deep into their lyrics and the musical subtleties, and you can do that at home with the actual album release in your hands. Time for a breather was coming along with “Ghosts”, a smoother, more melodic song, before things became heavier again with “Your Mind Is A Helpless Dreamer”. Their hit “Alien Shivers”, whereof they released a video recently, and “Ruby Pool” were not supposed to be missing in the set list. Asger was delivering awesome guitar solos and the audience loudly sang along to “Whaler” or “Stray The Skies”. Once more VOLA proved that they are a high-quality live band.
A speech was held afterwards. The founder took the microphone and all the people supporting the benefiting association of Heart Sound donated all incomes to “Ensemble contre les Leucémies”. Unfortunately, this speech was shortened, too, due to the timely delay. Anyway, they were able to outline their work and their motives, as well as the success they already achieved. Outside in the club (still within the building) the visitors could get all information needed about leukemia and how to support the fight against it, at stands that were operated by volunteers. A big cheers in thanks to their awesome work!
SMASH HIT COMBO were an interesting, energetic band playing rapcore. They create sound constructs using elements from hardcore, nu metal, deathcore, djent and hip hop. Above all: this band consists of madcaps. They know how to make the audience go crazy. Featuring two vocalists they performed a killer set, using double rap vocals, brutal guitar riffing, insane clanking and merciless roaring. In the middle of the gig their vocalists just jumped into the crowd and started an outrageous circle pit, being right in the middle. This was by far the festival band that made the audience sweat the most!
The Swedes from HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH played their first Paris gig ever at Heart Sound festival. They are all experienced technical deathcore players and they had to make the biggest sacrifice concerning their playing time. Their set was cut off to half of what was planned. But they still made the best out of it. So HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH performed like it was their last chance on earth to play live, and it was acknowledged with a packed hall and many enthusiastic headbangers. Deep-pitched growling and brute guitar riffing created an atmosphere of darkness and condemnation. This was a gig that many will remember for a long time.
LEPROUS wanted to make this whole event even more thrilling and decided to play a special “shuffle show” at Heart Sound. The band put 33 of their song titles written on paper in a hat and let the audience pick randomly, song after song. Band and crew members pulled out track by track, playing it right there as the songs got pulled from the box. The idea was stunning, so also a lot of international fans hit the road to witness this rare extravaganza.
A hurricane of applause rose when LEPROUS finally entered the stage with the “shuffle hat”. Naturally the head of “Ensemble contre les Leucémies”, Mr. Roland Rab, was likely to pull the first song “Rewind”. The crowd welcomed this track with high enthusiasm. This shuffle way of playing demanded some extra time of getting-ready before each song. Settings and tuning were to be made. Luckily this had absolutely no influence in the atmosphere among the fans, as the anticipation about which song to expect next, was huge.
“Lower” was the following song getting shuffled. That was one hell of a large mind tuning to jump from the pushy “Rewind” to the heartbreaking “Lower”. But that was exactly the purpose of this experiment: the setlist could end up being anything, from a total varying mix to total lopsided. But this remarkable cherry-picking task wasn’t solely the fans’ obligation. The band members picked at least the same amount of songs themselves.
“Acquired Taste” was up next. Or rather a version of it, as it was overwhelmingly beautiful. Frontman Einar Solberg gave an example of what he’s able to do with his magnificent voice. He morphed the album version to a more excessive version, making you laugh and cry at the same time. After “Bonneville”, “Triumphant” and “Captive” a row of three of their most deep-going, mellow yet sad songs was played: “Echo”, “Salt” and “Down”. Many fans looked deeply touched by these.
Some band members seemed to complain about so many slow songs in a row. Of course with a good portion of humour. Various funny comments brought a lot of joy to the audience. Clearly the French crowd would not allow “Down” to be the last song. They vehemently shouted for encores until the band returned. Sound engineer Chris had the honour to pull the last song from the shuffle hat. Thus, a fiery performance of “The Price” closed off this thrilling, unique gig full of passion and quality.
It remains to be hoped that the whole Heart Sound staff can continue their festival for many more years with the support of a lot of great bands, being able to keep on following their honourable goal.
Text & Photos: Uta Arnold
Managing editor: Filipe Gomes