Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Bloody Valentine, April 24th, Fillmore Auditorium

My ears are only now returning to something like normal from last Friday's show, so it's high time to write about what a unique experience this show was. OK, I'm joking a bit - I wore earplugs because of the many, many people who warned me about the extreme volumes at play in their shows and my ears were pretty much re-attuned to normalcy by the next day but WOW, I'm definitely glad that I didn't go in unprotected or I would likely only be getting my low end back now a week later. That 15-minute closing number was unlike any concert I've ever experienced - I've had high volumes at concerts take on a real physical form where my hairs stood on end, my stomach rumbled or whatever, but never where my entire body was enveloped in a barrage of sound for this long. After a while it became a sort of calming thing - I wasn't under a chandelier so I wasn't worried about one dropping off the rafters on to me, so I just sort of tranced out and let the sound wash over me. Maybe it went on a little longer than it needed to, but it certainly closed the show on an unforgettable note. And what lead up to that was pretty great.

I sort of lump all these "shoegazer" bands into an idea where their stage presence is nil and their guitars and light show carry all the drama - but these guys were different, now I'm gonna have to reassess my thoughts about it. While you could say that the guitarist/vocalists had the sort of disaffected cool expected of them and the light show - largely pointed out at the crowd, not the band - did the trick, the energy here was higher than anything I've ever seen in the genre. I'm not even sure "shoegazer" is a fair tag for them - that fantastic rhythm section plants them firmly in rock and roll tradition, not in the texture and ambience traded on like so many of the bands lumped together with them. It was immediately apparent that the bass and drums meant business - drummer never stopped moving (nor did his hair) and I would hate to see the state of the bass player's hands after the show because she never stopped strumming with an aggression that was totally at odds with the received image of what a "shoegazer" should look and sound like. And really, though the front line basically stood there and played and sang, between the volume of the guitars and the melodic fragments (presmably trigged by someone's foot pedals), they broke from the shoegaze norm by not just weaving a hypnotic tapestry of sound, but breaking out of it and providing points of reference - hooks, if you will. But that tapestry was still there - guitars blurred and blended together, voices buried in the mix (and can I just address the several people around me who complained about the vocals low in the mix - they're SUPPOSED to be like that!) - you could trance out to the show if you chose, but it was considerably more in-your-face than I'd been lead to believe.

I don't know yet if this will go down as one of the all time great shows I've seen, but instead of just leaving the show and going home to think about the next show I'm going to see, my mind keeps going back to different elements of last week's show. It's really stayed with me, and that's a good sign. I definitely won't miss them if they ever find their way back here. And I'll definitely have earplugs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was at the same show. One of the best ever. I am Bald and every hair on my head was standing during the last 15 minutes of the show!!!!