BIG|BRAVE – Aicher – Half/Time – Birmingham live review

BIG|BRAVE – Aicher – Half/Time – Castle and Falcon Birmingham – Sunday 14th May 2023

Supersonic Festival continue this years great run of shows with the overwhelming heavy, vast post-rock of Canadian’s BIG|BRAVE, the intense sonic movements of Aicher and the Māori sung post punk of Half/Time, read about it below.

Half/Time’s bassist Cee explains that we will be hearing Māori tonight, the language of the indigenous people of New Zealand. She puts her ear protectors on and then speaks in her language. A high clear distorted guitar starts playing alongside Wairehu Grant singing. The sound is spiritual and as the two vocals come together the drums start, a slow doom pace but the high uplifting vocal counters the feel. There’s a disappointed musical section and then into faster music, spiky, punky , angry and loud. The drums turn brutal bringing the message in the sound home to your head. A low bass groove comes in while the drums and guitar are all over the place, Wairehu sings as the sound takes in post pink angular shapes and jazzcore jerkiness. It’s shouty and slows to a grind. We are told that the next song is about the land. The bass is solid and through everything and the vocal is Māori, it turns into freeform music, fast then slow, confusing. The guitarist puts his instrument down and wraps the mic cord around his arm, manic punk drums hammer out and he provides a hardcore shouty vocal, it’s angry low and contained until it bursts out into loose and loud. But still bloody angry.

Tribal drumming with a low fuzz guitar and a thumping bass line leads to more anger, more shouting. It’s a pride in their culture showing, a pride in history, the sound is wide open and huge. It falls into itself, gets smaller and more insular and then freaks out into viscous rock’n’roll. Now a slow direct song, the bass and guitar fighting the drums which turns into a low blues nightmare, crawling through a swamp clogged with cement dust and industrial waste. It gets louder and angrier but still crawls along through the gutter. The set ends with more Māori. An excellent start to the evening.

Aicher has a table of electronics and a big flight case open with more. The sound starts with a crash of thunder and a buzz of feedback. The thunder is backbreaking then silence, it continues like this as the storm gets closer, there’s a bass hum coming from somewhere and a drone breaks into the sound, throbbing. He picks up a guitar but when he plays it, God alone knows what it’s playing through as it sounds like no guitar I’ve ever heard, It sounds like buildings falling, he uses a bow to make the sound even more intense. It’s crashes of noise over a low bass hum and drone which is all steadily getting more intense and harder. It’s now getting disturbing, blasts of stuttering sounds and the guitar, altogether making one hell of a noise. There’s no beats just layers and layers of noise. Stratas of sound being laid heavily on top of each other forming mountains of distortion. He doesn’t stop moving, drawn around his equipment and playing the guitar. 

It now appears to be a xylophone being played through the same amount of distortion as the guitar, the whole crowd are entranced by it, frozen, intent. He leaves a little space between the noises until a teeth shattering drone throbs in and out again. The drone morphs into a helicopters rotors coming in over your head and it is destroying me. It changes again into machinery grinding and rattling, tools bouncing around a flat bed truck as it drives fast over a ruined road. It all gets louder, clanking, bass drone until it’s a massive sound over the top of everything. He’s bent double over the guitar as it plays out. It fades again to an undulating drone which grows as noises like robots dying in battle, there looks like there’s someone else onstage but I can’t see and it ends as it starts with bursts and sheets of noise. I’m breathless, another brilliant set.

The lights have gone out and the stage is full of dry ice. Guitar strings rattle and feedback cries out, it’s eerie, empty and then it starts. A huge guitar note and a pained lost vocal before the drums fall in to make the hugest sound of the night, and that’s saying something. It is slow, measured and incredibly heavy. I can see them move through the fog onstage as the sound builds bigger and more impenetrable, the vocals are just raw suffering. A Holy terror over the dense sound. The noise is pain and hate condensed into this discordant groove. It clams and is almost an ambient sound without the drums but then they come in and it’s crushing my head again. The vocals project fear and loathing around the room and it’s very much an attack on the senses, think Swans but more intense. It’s a slow grinding down of your mental defences, a nasty, livid attack of noise.

It just gets louder and more visceral, and space at all you may take to draw breath is filled with crushing, heavy noise. Just when it’s absolutely too much it eases back to a drone, just for a moment until layers of guitar riffs and chords come raining down over it. Chimes play underneath it all with a high vocal as the drone plays out with an unusual restraint even as you know the whole thing is going to fall again like a hammer on an anvil. There’s a burst of bass feedback and the vocal gets harsher, it’s hugely atmospheric and insanely intense. Drums come in again and the sound rises, everything is massive from the apoplectic vocal to the bass feeding back again. It throws you back to the drums then pummels you on more guitars. This feels like I’m in a fight. I’m feeling squashed inside myself, belittled and lost. I feel tiny compared to the immensity of sound confronting me. To be brutally honest I’m feeling that this is just too much for me, I am overwhelmed totally, I feel no hope and no way of escape. I’ve been absorbed into this performance and I am gone. It finishes but inside my head it carries on until I finally fall asleep. 




BIG|BRAVE’s website is, they are on Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp and Tweet as @big_brave_.

Aicher is on Bandcamp and Instagram.

Half/Time’s website is They are on Facebook , Instagram and Bandcamp.

All Pictures by Martin Ward, all words by Adrian Bloxham.

Adrian Bloxham

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