For most people in Western Europe, Sunday is a day of rest. It’s a day that is either reserved for church or spewing sermons of your own into a porcelain bowl. There’s rarely a middle ground. But sometimes, if you’ve been good, you’ll be blessed with a balls out, no holds barred bar room rock show in the same town that hosts the annual Roadburn Festival. I guess I’ve been a good boy lately because Sunday June 14th was the day that Valley of the Sun hit the Little Devil in Tilburg and provided exactly what this long haired rock n’ roll addict needed: a kick to the teeth
Valley of the Sun is a power trio that produces an onslaught of sound. This is in no small part thanks to drummer Aaron, whose physical being seemed to actually increase when he sat down behind his kit. Before I knew it, there was a monster up on stage towering over his drum set, shooting funny looks at everyone. His playing was hard, tight, and when accented by rising from his drumstool, bombastic. To his left was a jittery, frizzy haired, fair skinned maniac taking care of the low end, which he did without any qualms. His jumping on to, off of, and into things made it clear he was down with all frequencies. And finally, running the show there was singer-guitarist Ryan and on this day it happened to be his birthday. His stage presence didn’t sizzle like the grease his comrades were cooking with, but that’s what happens when you’re gripped firmly by the curse of being both the singer and the guitarist. This bit of calm – a word I use here in its loosest sense - served as an anchor for the show, keeping things centered and focused, but no less palpable.
The band treated us to a short set that was chock full of fan favorites. They laid down “Deep Light Burns” from the band’s EP with the same power as “Maya” and “Nomads,” which were lifted from their full-length release. That Valley of the Sun could pull off songs from their EP with this much confidence goes to show just how much of a mature outing it was and that it deserves the special re-release vinyl treatment it got courtesy of Kozmik Artifactz. Another stand out moment was one of the new songs they played, whose high paced groove hasn’t left my head since the show. The song orbitted around a guitar riff that was both relentless and repetitive, which eventually broke free in the bridge. Aaron then filled all the empty spaces up with rolling tom hits, sending the song tumbling forward while Ryan accentuated the whole package with more woo-ho-oo goodness.
The rest of the set came in like missiles in a first person shooter. With each song, the band got closer to the crowd, playing with the tipping point but ultimately not giving in and becoming overbearing. As the temperature in the room rose, so did the volume of both the band and the drunken, friendly banter of the crowd. There may not have been many in attendance, but those who were there, were there for Valley of the Sun. It was this vibe that made the bar feel like it was hosting a sell-out crowd. We stood right up front, toes to the stage, shooting equally awkward glares right back at Aaron. I was having a good time, my buddies were too, and I could tell that Ryan was enjoying his birthday
Words by: Victor van Ommen.