Live Review: 1476, (w/ HarborLights, and Night School) – Koto Grill & Sushi – Salem, MA – September 22, 2017
1476 deserve a bigger stage. This was the first time the band had played in their beloved hometown of Salem, MA in quite some time, and the small platform at Koto Grill & Sushi could barely contain their enthusiasm. External factors aside, there is still an internal fire in 1476 preceding their modest, small-town origins that beg for a bigger audience. Being raised in an even smaller town in northern NH, I can attest to how their music captures the quaint New England spirit perfectly while also embodying the dark frustrations and intense desires for more that come with it. Their music is beautifully haunting, quietly chilling, and ferociously loud all at once, and seeing it live on the first night of autumn was perfect.
The night began with sushi and beer while we waited for the openers to set up (shout out to Koto, the staff was beyond friendly, and the jalapeno maki was delicious). First was a solid set from dark rock duo Night School, whom I am still trying to find on some form of social media. Boston’s own HarborLights then took the stage and delivered a fantastic set of shoegaze-y post-metal bliss.
After a brief turnover period, it was time for 1476. The band had been hyping this show for months. After posting old, medieval-style artwork promising “a cathartic night” and to “burn the fucking place down,” it was time for the Salem duo, with the help of a stand-in bassist and guitarist, to prove themselves while still following Massachusetts fire codes.
As far as metaphors go, 1476 made damn good on their promises. The set began with the charging and deeply melodic “Stave-Fire” from their 2012 full-length, Wildwood. Aside from “To Draw the Fifteen,” a desert-like acoustic ballad from their debut EP, Smoke In The Sky, the rest of the set list was from their latest full-length, Our Season Draws Near, released just this year.
The fast-paced “Winter of Winds” was next, followed by the mid-tempo “Winter of Wolves.” Lead singer and guitarist Robb Kavjian stretched his range from mournful whispers to explosive, anguished screams on the track “Odessa,” and busted out his metal growl on the encore track “Solitude (Interior).” Neil DeRosa on drums (who turned 30 at midnight in the middle of the set) was given full opportunity to show off with varying beats and speeds, thanks to 1476’s dynamic songwriting.
While the band admittedly fell victim to the expected and unavoidable shortcomings of playing in such a small and unconventional venue (limited space, poor lighting, etc), I was shocked at just how flawless they sounded despite their limitations. Any jokes that Robb made in between songs about being rusty and not knowing what they were doing were easily laughed off.
Each member played their respective instruments to perfection, from the intricate lead picking sections to the vocal performances. Every song sounded just like the studio album, if not bigger and better. 1476 are tight performers, playing on a veteran level that contradicts their humble self-branding.
Seeing this band live was an intimate experience. Perhaps it’s a shared New England upbringing, perhaps it’s the way they evoke nostalgia through their timbre, or perhaps it is their kvlt-folk aesthetic, but something about 1476 draws you in. It causes you to connect with them in a way that makes you want to share their music with the world while also keeping it a secret. 1476 deserve a bigger stage, but something tells me they wouldn’t really want one. It’s a New England thing.
Full Set List:
“Winter of Winds”
“Winter of Wolves”
“To Draw The Fifteen”