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(Live Review) THE OCEAN + SUPPORT - Reggie's Rock House, Chicago (2/17/24)


The Beard & Little Johnny

Tonight, your reviewing duo The Beard & Little Johnny, are making our first 2024 stop at Reggie’s (Chicago’s south side home for metal). On this evening’s bill were: German post metal act The Ocean, with support from The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die and Shy Low.

When I gave the names of the bands for tonight, Little Johnny heard the second one and thought I was having a small stroke. “That’s a band name? Jesus how do they fit it on the marquee Beard?”


We skipped our usual pre-show meal this time around, but we are having our during the show libations, with Little Johnny going with a Zombie Dust IPA, while The Beard contented himself with a Maplewood Son of Juice IPA. Johnny nodded approvingly saying, “Atta boy Beard, you’re learning.”


The crowd tonight was not the traditional metal heads we’re used to seeing. Post metal tends to be more ambient than traditional metal and therefore attracts a more eccentric crowd of fans attracted as much to the jumping-off aspects where influences like jazz or classical can merge with prog or sludge to form a musical stew of varied flavors. (Ed: I'm falling asleep just reading the description!) Johnny looked around and said “Beard, it looks like a room full of emo college Art Majors.” (Ed: Run Johnny, run!)


Opening the event were Virginia post metal act ...


Formed in 2011, these guys have three albums including their 2021 release Snake Behind the Sun. Shy Low played instrumentals with a heavily layered sound. Sounding rather like Pelican or Russian Circles, Shy Low played with low front lighting, and dark colored back lighting remaining largely in shadowy semi-light throughout their set.


They had multi guitar harmonies and songs rose and lowered in intensity riding musical waves throughout. Although there is a limited appeal to this style which I affectionately call M

"meander metal" (because songs just sort of meander around for four to six minutes and then end), Shy Low gave a nice thirty-minute bite of that style.

Rating: 81/100


On the way to the facilities, I ran across Johnny and asked what HE thought of Shy Low's set. “Well Beard they were kind of cool, but it was like that sherbet they give you at the fancy restaurant between the regular courses.” “You mean a pallet cleanser?” “Yeah, kind of like that. Hey, Beard, you think they got sherbet here?” “I don’t think so little dude.”


Next up were Connecticut’s Indie rock act...


(Which is the longest band name I have ever reviewed).

They were a six piece who patterned themselves after acts like Godspeed You! Black Emperor but with vocals. Electronica was a big part of their act, and it was an odd hodgepodge of styles. You could grab diverse elements of alternative rock and synthetic pop. Other than the heavy drumming I had a tough time calling this metal. (Ed: Very astute Beard.)

Unlike Shy Low, this seemed more at home in a late 80’s early 90’s heavy rave experience. Johnny made it through a few numbers and then wandered towards the door possibly still looking for sherbet. Although the gentleman behind me called them amazing and largely they did receive a nice pop from a very full room, I was not really a fan of what they did. My rating therefore will have to remain 76/100.


Headliners The Ocean are a German post metal band formed back in 2000. They have nine releases and are currently touring behind 2023’s Holocene.

A mash up of post/prog/sludge created an avant-garde metal sound that defied easy description. (Ed: I can think of a word!) There was definitely mood and ambiance as they played largely beneath (and in front of) strong orange and red back lighting or extremely bright whites, both rendering the musicians largely indistinct for detail.


The band themselves were largely nondescript in appearance. Vocalist Loïc Rossetti (singing in a hoodie), and guitarists Robin Staps & David Ramis Åhfeldt initially were not overly expressive in look or action. Only drummer Paul Seidel presented any of the metal thunder on the first few numbers..


The Ocean (like its namesake) early in the set had most of its intricacies going on beneath the surface while the outward view was calm and placid with some moments reminiscent of a storm blowing in. This initially reminded me of a cross between Amorphis and Opeth during each band’s mellow sections. The music had appeal and the crowd was calmly responsive. Calmly watching with big cheers at the end of songs.


As there was a very full crowd, but no pits, Johnny found his way back to me. In looking at him, I couldn’t help but ask “Dude, where did you find jellybeans?” He just answered “Dunno. Outside. Want some?” “I’ll pass little dude.” Johnny initially felt The Ocean were too alt arty for his tastes, but they were already growing on me with their dark ambiance.


Suddenly Loic just launched himself off the stage on top of the crowd, surfed through it and then was safely returned to the stage on the hands of the fans. THAT woke the lad up causing him to pocket the jellybeans and exclaim. “Okay Beard, these guys just got a lot cooler!” He then headed back down into the crowd. (Ed: You sure they were jellybeans?)

The Ocean had awoken and now they were angry. The last several numbers were intense, and the band truly cut loose giving what ended up being a really cool set with a lot of heavy metal power numbers. Loic took two more dives into the audience and at one point was actually standing on a sea of hands while still singing. I have not seen THAT before.


It is still early in the year, but this ended up being the best set so far, and I am awarding The Ocean a very fine 87/100.


Johnny agreed: “They started slow Beard, but they really kicked ass that last bunch of numbers. You want the rest of these jellybeans?”


This wrapped up show number four and bands 9-11 in this still early 2024 season. Be sure to stay up on the latest metal news (including our reviews) on your only true home for metal The Mighty Decibel.

Catch all the videos on TikTok at thebeard0728 and of course all the nonmetal reviews on Facebook Mark McQueen.

Until next time this is the Beard and Little Johnny saying stay heavy and ...

 Horns Up!!!


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