Show Review

Silent Planet @ Mahall's Basement 2/5/16

                                                                                                                                                           The Musician's Dilemma (Sanchez/2016)
Lisa Sanchez

​"This is special, this is cool," said lead singer Garrett Russell, welcoming the crowd crammed into Mahall's basement in Lakewood. Before the show, Silent Planet had spent 36 days recording their new album, set to be released in 2016. The Mahall's show was thrown together last minute by the band's manager and was filled with ecstatic fans.
Silent Planet have been isolated working on their new album, but 2016 is expected to be a big year for them. Alternative Press named the L.A. metalcore outfit one of the "16 Bands to Watch in 2016" and HM Magazine named Silent Planet's awaited album as one of the most anticipated of 2016.

Mahall's basement is exactly how it sounds. It's about the size of a double wide garage and the ceilings are so low they make me feel tall. The concrete floor is thoroughly covered in a grimy layer of cheap beer and dude rage and the temperature is just north of a funk sauna. The lighting is well, there is no lighting. It's a basement. There is no stage, but rather a loosely designated area where the band will stand, which does and doesn't work at the same time. 

Before Silent Planet took their appointed slab of concrete, the crowd had already begun edging ever closer to Russell, drummer Alex Camarena, bassist Thomas Freckleton, and guitarist Mitchell Stark. The crowd ultimately isolated lead guitarist Spencer Keene from the rest of the band and left him to fend for himself with only his guitar and assortment of pedals (and me, standing right in front of him) for the rest of the show.

The venue seems oddly appropriate, but disjointed for Silent Planet's multidimensional music. Russell spoke with AltOhio in October 2015 and made the band's unabashed anti-materialism stance known. To that effect, Mahall's basement is a great setting for them. Gritty, personal, and aggressive, but Russell also takes time to explain the story behind songs like "Tiny Hands (Au revoir)" and "Darkstrand (Hibakusha)." Both of which are narratives from the perspectives of victims of World War II violence.

Silent Planet gave everything they could to their audience, announcing each song they play from "firstwake" (sic), "First Mother," "Native Blood," and "Wasteland." Russell's vocals kept shorting, but in a stuttering way where it seemed to be intentional for atmosphere. As the set progressed, Silent Planet are fighting a losing battle with the crowd and they couldn't be more pumped about it. Fans are inches from the band and Keene is still shredding away on his own special guitar island, occasionally plowing into concert goers while still playing. I can't tell if he's pissed or just a true basement performer, but either way he doesn't miss a note.
​When I spoke to Russell in October, he struck me as a man that constantly had the truth welling up inside him. The singer couldn't be more open and real even if he tried, but he opened up to the crowd in Mahall's by explaining, "A year and a half ago I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder." I couldn't tell if this was in relation to a song, or just a spontaneous expulsion from Russell, who told the audience about living in a dream he couldn't shake. Either way, it was gripping to see the barefoot performer open himself up. 

On the final notes of Silent Planet's last song, Freckleton shoved the neck of his bass into a small hole in the basement's ceiling and it stayed there. The bass hung there for a few moments and when Freckleton pulled it free he made it a point to take a piece of the ceiling with him. All of the fans chanted for an encore, but Camarena laughingly answered, "We've actually played every song we have right now." Then people started asking for covers.

When the rest of the band began breaking down and packing up Russell went to his knees on the floor. At first, I didn't even realize he was there until I saw people standing around him with mingled looks of confusion and concern. After a few moments, he stood back up and began hugging and greeting fans. Considering Silent Planet and Russell's religious beliefs, I figured he may have just felt an insatiable urge to pray. It was only the next day that the singer explained his reaction on Facebook, stating, 

...After being inside a studio for 36 days, the human interaction simultaneously freaked me out and made me break down with feelings. I cried through most of Depths II (sorry about that).
It was weird and it was beautiful and reminded me why we do this.

The singer stayed for a long time talking and thanking fans who came from as far away as Detroit and Columbus to see the show. We spoke briefly, and Russell commented that, "The scene needs more intelligent, driven women." Which is true, but I realized I had never heard that statement explicitly uttered by any performer (man or woman). Silent Planet have the drive and the energy to revolutionize a lot of things, but more than anything, they are a breath of fresh air to ventilate the alternative scene.

Although the venue was like trying to cram an elephant into a gym locker, the energy was high, the band's performance was stellar (despite technical difficulties and crowd enclosure), and, perhaps most importantly, they were 100 percent genuine and present throughout their entire performance. Look out for Silent Planet's new album to be released this year and get ready for their next impending Ohio show. 
         Someone give this man a damn medal already (Sanchez/2016)