We are almost at the end of the first quarter of 2021 and the live music industry hasn’t recovered from the hard blow dealt by the pandemic in 2020. THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE, a music collective based in Berlin, Germany, had originally planned two identical tours in terms of line-up and venues. However, with the world still struggling to keep the Covid situation under control, the tour did not kick-off as expected in January and there was no real perspective for clubs or indoor concerts. In an attempt to keep the ball rolling with their current album cycle “Phanerozoic” on stage, the band played the first part “Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic” in its entirety at Bremen Club 100 (Pier 2) in the form of a streaming concert. One cannot overlook the irony in the fact that the two albums deal with the great extinction of species several hundred million years ago and can now only be performed only as live-streamed concerts due to a worldwide pandemic!
Even the live-streamed show was not an easy undertaking logistically. Mattias Hägerstrand (bass) and David Ramis Åhfeldt (guitar), the two Swedes that complete THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE had to be quarantined after entering Germany at the beginning of March. The Bremen Hall pier, which has a capacity of 2800 people under normal circumstances was occupied by a team of around 25 people apart from THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE, under strict covid safety protocols.
The Livestream started with a 20-minute live interview with Robin Stahps and Loic Rosetti. The concert started after a short break of three minutes with the album intro “The Cambrian Explosion”. One would ideally expect the sound mix for a band like THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE to be perfect from the first second. However, the viewers had no choice but to settle for the microphone sound from the camera installed near the drum kit. The mix was drum-heavy and unbalanced diverging on the lines of being unlistenable. The cymbals and snares dominated with vocals being barely audible, leaving no room for any listening pleasure.
The problem was fixed within the first five minutes and viewers were rewarded for their patience and waiting with a really professional concert experience. The dynamic song passages worked perfectly in sync with the camera work and live image editing.
The light show, elaborate but never over-the-top, added an atmospheric element to the show. The balance between red and blue lights coupled with just the right amount of fog gave the stage an overall eerie appearance. The harder passages were supported by massive stroboscopes.
A highlight during the set was “Silurian: Age of Sea Scorpions” with the sound of waves paving the intro for the song and a masterful culmination of electronic elements and jazzy interludes. This was followed by “Devonian:Nascent”, a song that originally featured Jonas Renske from Katatonia on vocals. Loic Rosetti demonstrated just how good a vocalist he is by flowing through the song with poise and executing the vocals with a more earthy approach, which worked perfectly in sync with the ferocity of the guitars.
The next song “The Carboniferous: Rainforest Collapse”, an instrumental track that has never been performed live previously, was a refreshing pause before the band proceeded to the final track “Permian: The Great Dying”, yet another monstrous performance and a perfect curtain call for an impressive live stream event.
Overall, the show showcased skillful technical implementation and was tastefully executed. The lack of interaction with the crowd is barely even noticeable as THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE is a band that makes their presence felt with their visual and content concepts. Even though the band did succumb to nerves after the initial technical set-back, they recovered quickly and let their material take over and deliver an absolute goliath of a performance.
I’ve been a fan of THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE since I first listened to Heliocentric over a decade ago. Having seen them live back in 2014, this is one show I was really looking forward to and they did not disappoint, notwithstanding the initial technical difficulties. Personally, Paul Siedel, the drummer was an absolute pleasure to watch with his precise strokes and attention to detail. With tickets priced at 13 €, the band delivered a 50-minute streaming experience (available for streaming for another 48 hours after the show) was definitely a bang for the buck. Watching THE OCEAN COLLECTIVE perform Phanerozoic I in its entirety was definitely a treat and Part II (to be aired virtually during Roadburn Festival “Roadburn Redux” from April 16-18) is definitely something for the fans to look forward to!
Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic Setlist
- The Cambrian Explosion
- Cambrian II: Eternal Recurrence
- Ordovicium: The Glaciation Of Gondwana
- Silurian: Age Of Sea Scorpions
- Devonian: Nascent
- The Carboniferous: Rainforest Collapse
- Permian: The Great Dying