Since Have a Nice Lifeâ€™s bone-chilling Deathconsciousness debuted just over a decade ago, the album attracted a small but growing cult following. To describe the album, or any attempt to convey its devastating potency, is futile – itâ€™s best to let it speak for itself. When performed live, its bleakness, hopelessness, and sheer ennui bleeds out of every moment like lacerations. The source of it all? Just a pair of buddies, Dan Barrett and Tim Macuga.
On July 12th, Connecticutâ€™s Have a Nice Life made their west-coast debut, performing at Catch One in Los Angeles. The night started off with Consumer, a side-project of Timâ€™s, bringing together a hearty blend of post-rock inspired instrumentals with the added kick of industrial metal. Following suit was All Your Sisters, a band that seems to teeter in between the sonic spectrums of Melvins and Daughters. Perhaps the most impressive performative feat, however, was Planning for Burialâ€™s one-man post-rock/shoegaze set. Thom Wasluck (a.k.a. Planning for Burial) writes, records, and performs his music entirely independently. Whereas most established bands in the genre require full-sized ensembles (see Godspeed You! Black Emperor), Wasluckâ€™s ability to build walls of sound on his own is incredible to witness live. Of course, you wonâ€™t see him playing five instruments at a time, but rather conjuring crushing, expansive tones with just his guitar and voice.
â€œThe Big Gloomâ€ was Have a Nice Lifeâ€™s weapon of choice for opening up their set, fittingly setting the dark tone that prodded through the evening. Its slow, swaying heaviness leaded directly into new songs such as â€œTrespassers Wâ€ and â€œWoe Unto Usâ€ – from their upcoming album Sea of Worry – which sent audience members, myself included, into an unrelenting mosh. As their signature song â€œBloodhailâ€ crept into rotation, the crowd almost instinctively began chanting in unison – a testament to the songâ€™s undeniably captivating qualities. Needless to say, the band brought a larger ensemble to perform their material live, feeding their heavy blend of post-punk and shoegaze through speakers that could hardly withstand their power.
Deeper cuts like â€œWaiting for Black Metal Records to Come in the Mailâ€ were played alongside new material as if Sea of Worry has been in the bandâ€™s regular rotation for years – and it very well might be. Their last project, The Unnatural World, was released five years ago, in 2014, a long time for any fan to wait. The pinnacle of their performance, however, was arguably their final song – â€œEarthmoverâ€. Also functioning as the closer to their album Deathconsciousness, itâ€™s a song that lives up to its name (which is true of many of the bandâ€™s compositions) but particularly emphasized with the impressively calculated build-up of momentum the band displays. After the song snowballed from a mere guitar riff into an enveloping wall of sound, voices from the crowd joined together to exclaim the thesis of the album, if you will – â€œWe wish we were dead.â€
The attack packed into a Have a Nice Life show is equal parts cathartic as it is crushing. Not for the faint of heart. Please consider consulting your doctor or a trained medical professional before attending similar events.