Sonic ambience thrills at The Monkey House

  Post-rock outfit Caspian wrapped up their brief tour with a stunning and utterly overwhelming performance on Sunday, Sept. 19 at The Monkey House in Winooski. Montreal-based supporting act This Quiet Army took the stage first. One man, armed with a guitar, video projector and plethora of effect processors and looping stations, built a haunting atmosphere in the club. Caspian then set up on the floor and the crowd huddled around. Dressed in nearly all black, with front man Philip Jamieson towering over everyone in the audience, their presence dominated. They began with a choral intro and crescendoed into an ambience that was both peaceful and ominous, like the calm before a storm. Then without warning, they smashed into the crowd with a flood of sonic intensity that left some feeling momentarily helpless. “When they took the stage I didn’t really know what to expect; their sound sort of erupted in this tiny-ass venue — it was overwhelming and they just rocked it,” junior Aaron Haight, who had never heard Caspian before, said. Even though Sunday was the last night of their 11-day tour, Caspian was not content to go home to Beverly, Mass. quietly. “We’re gonna give you guys all we’ve got tonight,” Jamieson said. Their set flowed between moments of sheer power and liberating sonic submergence as in the end of “Some Are White Light,” and “Moksha,” which is the Sanskrit word for liberation, and quieter moments that offered the audience a chance to come up for air. Caspian has no vocals whatsoever. This allows their intricate guitar harmonies and textures backed by driving bass to speak for themselves and had a profound effect for some. “I guess you could say the first guy was pretty cool,” Haight said. “He was interesting but Caspian just blew my mind.” Jamieson said he felt pretty good about the show. “The sound was rough, but that’s par for the course at small venues,” he said. “I couldn’t really hear the bass and kick drum.” As the band had gotten used to doing three-month tours after they released their second LP “Tertia” in 2009, this tour was “a nice manageable amount of time,” Jamieson said. “Short but sweet.”