LIVE REPORTRED MARQUEE8/22 SUN
Paint the Marquee red
It is hard to know exactly what to expect from a Gezan show ahead of time, so it is best to just expect the unexpected. That way you won’t be too gobsmacked when something absolutely unpredictable happens. Good advice to have spread before their Sunday Night Red Marquee set, which ended up as one of the most raucous, most intense and most enjoyable of the whole weekend.
The band themselves have evolved from a raw and wacky deep punk-rock band into something altogether more mature, compelling and wonderfully confusing. The leader of the whole circus, Mahi to the People, has become a maestro of madness as Gezan has grown more and more artistically ambitious.
Their set began with the stage bathed in the band’s signature red, and a refrain of tribal wailing, before revealing the set’s two first surprises – a brief flurry of bagpipes and a full backing choir like red dressed cult members. And Mahi on atonal trumpet wearing an antlered shamanistic shroud adorned with three glowing red eyes. See, told ya it was gonna be wild.
Mahi bark-rapped his way through Chuken, and it was everything the crowd could do to obey social distancing procedures and not erupt into a wild moshing frenzy. Punctuated shouts from the choir and staccato sitar-esque work from the guitars capped the whole experience off as the start of a weird, mystic journey – world music, but unclear from what world.
Their second song, Extacy, rolled on the beat, adding a layer of trance inducing deep synth bass, punctuated by more guttural animal chanting from the choir. Mahi’s repeated phrase ‘I don’t care’ seemed to be a vocal repudiation of all the conventions he was tearing apart. The set propelled on into Replicant, without even a moment’s pause between songs. Hearts were racing and the tension was at nearly unbearable levels like the nightmare phase of a mescaline trip, and we were only ten minutes in. Phew.
Enough time had passed without anything totally insane happening, so time for a short, demented cover of Get Up, Stand Up, or at least the refrain repeated over droning guitar and pounding tribal drums. The following song, Tokyo, saw Mahi remove his headdress to reveal his beautiful, straight, hip length hair, and things relaxed (comparatively) for a precious few moments. For the next song, Suiten, the choir held sustained notes like Tuvan throat singers for the first third of the anthemic ballad before joining Mahi like a gospel choir for the chorus. Despite the deep weirdness of it all, it seemed somehow to all make sense in the context Gezan framed.
At this point the band paused to address the crowd and take a breath. After all, they are only human (presumably). The choir departed, and Gezan carried on at a more reasonable headcount. This was also when the rain started absolutely pouring. Perhaps the weather gods demanded a bigger sound from the band? Or perhaps they were upset that the song they chose to return from their break with was No God? Hard to say, divine powers can be inscrutable at times.
After a few dabbling tunes, Body Odd saw Gezan go full on strange rap rock, complete with guest vocals to help Mahi scream rap his way through a chaotic tornado of discordant hardcore. After a lengthy talk about the present and future state of the world, the band ended the set in the most unpredictable way possible, with a fairly straight-forward tune. Didn’t see that one coming! Not to say that DNA isn’t a great song, by many measures its their most popular, just that it feels a little bit like just a song compared to the rest of their set. Perhaps we all needed a little comedown, and after all it was still a great song performed by a great band.
But then it happened, already a few minutes over time (unheard of), Mahi pulled his choir back out and a took on a sweet, tame, nearly acapella version of Linda Lilinda. It was a strangely innocent way to close after such a visceral set. But, of course, it was very Gezan to do a very strange thing for an encore. ‘I don’t care’ indeed.
Around the world, Sunday is traditionally a day set aside by many for communion with higher powers. For those at the Red Marquee, that happened to be the animistic deity, bathed in red, which is GEZAN.
[Photo: 10 All photo]