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I guess it was the big day with the elimination of the sixteen year American absence of MY BLOODY VALENTINE, but there were still a bunch of phenomenal bands slated to play. As I was walking out of one show to another, I spied COLM O’CIOSOIG outside and told him that he was gonna blow my mind tonight. He laughed. (If you haven’t already, please see the previous reports for day 1 and day 2.
THE WOUNDED KNEES
I forgot my earplugs at home (big thanks to my wife Hilary who went back and got them for me), and when I got to the photo pit of the 2nd stage my ears flinched at the familiar howl of J Mascis’ guitar, whose presence was unexpected. He played some nice bits against the insistent strumming backdrop of two acoustic guitars, and an occasional flautist. Apparently there are ex-*MERCURY REV* ties with some members of the band. This band also opened the NYC shows for MBV (along with LE VOLUME COURBE, who I missed). Kinda boring, to be honest.
Textured guitar soundscapes with very nice visuals via a projected backdrop (which took a very long time to actually find a sound/visual person to hit the ‘play’ button.) His love of delays and chorus pedals is no surprise for any COCTEAU TWINS followers.
Erick and Parrish took their early hip-hop sound and breathed fresh life into it, also using the occasion to do a medley of fallen heroes (*BIGGIE SMALLS*, TUPAC SHAKUR, etc). They got our hands in air and when they said ‘hip,’ we said ‘hop’!
I hadn’t seen KURT HEASLEY and band since Terrastock V, and their well-burnished Brit-pop sound was a-ok; they didn’t do anything from their shoegazer-indebted debut record while I was in the room, but KEVIN SHIELDS was there in the room to take note if it happened.
Lovely to look at, and a surprisingly muscular song sprang into my ears when I joined their set. That gave way to an acoustic guitar being donned, and a fairly rote folk-number ebbed my interest level.
The surprise of the weekend. I’d not seen them since DAVID BAKER manned the mic, and in the interim I lost track of their Flaming Lips-ish gauze works. Big mistake, at least in the live setting. This band slayed…not to say they would match against SLAYER, but the energy level and manner of engagement was top-notch. Big rock moves, big guitar sounds, big drums. Sometimes it teetered on the razor’s edge of pretension, but never fell into Coldplay territory. Chris Martin wishes he could stand in JONATHAN DONAHUE’s black boots.
I hated to leave Rev’s show prematurely. I’m glad I did, but really should have headed out a tad sooner, as I was late enough to hear the fading notes of “How You Satisfy Me” from across the courtyard. As I entered the room, Sonic Boom and his three piece were deep into the two note mantra that the Velvets mapped out and the STOOGES brutalized. Wow. I’d seen JASON PIERCE do some acoustic readings last year (“Amen,” “Walking With Jesus”) but this was the dark throbbing counterpoint. “When Tomorrow Hits,” “Revolution” and especially “Suicide” were about the perfect set of songs all weekend. Killer.
YO LA TENGO
About the tenth time I’d seen them, and I should have stayed in for my full dose of Spectrum. A good noise/instrumental number to open, but I think they lost some momentum afterwards, and an asshole in the crowd talking loudly during a quiet song and then openly mocking the band killed my mood, and I moved over to…
...AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD
Another surprise. I’d heard from friends who had seen them that their later material was lackluster, but I really didn’t know anything about the band going in, aside from the fact that they covered GUIDED BY VOICES’ “Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory.” A bristling six-piece awaited me, dual drummers facing each other, guitars careening around melody lines, and triumphant vocals. Their sound recalled MOSS ICON; this is what emo should sound like. “Mistakes And Regrets” instantly became a favorite.
Easily set of the weekend. I love the new record, and it was magnificent in its glacial sweeping; think early LABRADFORD or thundering BRIAN ENO. The older bits (“Like Herod,” “Mogwai Fear Satan”) were devastating (Stuart wisely gave the ‘knock it off’ hand signal to crowd members who started a rhythmic handclap in “Like Herod” like it was some sort of JIMMY BUFFET singalong) and the new record (_The Hawk Is Howling_) is their very best. Clouds form, storms clash. After the show drummer MARTIN BULLOCH had a health problem which necessitated the cancellation of the remaining North American dates. Will look forward to seeing them in early ‘09 for the re-scheduled Boston date.
Good set, though I heard I missed ‘Raisans’ as I was hurrying over to catch BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE. Lou snarked that he was looking forward to seeing MBV, as they kicked him out of the band before the two bands toured together, and it was obvious that he was having a great time playing. Usually J MASCIS and co are the loudest band to plug in, but that wouldn’t be the case tonight.
BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE
Another surprise. Having seen the movie ‘Dig!’ I wasn’t sure if I was to receive a boot to the head while trying to photograph the band, but it was all psych rock goodness reigning and raining down. Superb sounding band, Anton off to one side and belting out great song after great song while an electric 12 string guitar added a full, rich tone. “Swallowtail” in particular is about as perfect a song as I can imagine.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE
The wait was over. No it wasn’t. MBV took their merry time strolling on stage after the audience was afforded free ear plugs in case they were rash and didn’t bring any of their own; I heard of someone asking Kevin Shields if the gig was going to be loud and he replied “I certainly hope so.” Then the backdrop projector started, the Jaguars were slung over shoulders, and a collective ecstatic state was joined. “I Only Said” broke sixteen years of MBV silence on American soil, and ~80 minutes later the noise onslaught of “You Made Me Realise” was the realization of a dream for many. To me the set was good but not stellar; it was clear there was a lot of backing tracks being played, and the click track/sequencer/whatever got woefully out of phase during “Soon,” (which Bilinda reminded us that we could dance to). That said, the most self-indulgent part (the ~20 minute white noise onslaught during ‘Realise’ akin to the Nazgul screaming directly in your ear) was among the best. I do like abstract noise music, and this band has the wherewithal and budget to do it right, to subject cowering punters to its mighty presence. I took my ear plugs out for 4 seconds and swiftly jammed them back in lest my brain boil.
The rest of the night faded into the afterglow; a great weekend coming to a close, and a friend of mine trying to win money off Albini at the poker table. I’ll be back for the already announced ‘09 ATP fest; Elvis is waiting to check you in.
I didn’t get to see BOB MOULD’s set, but he graciously posed for a quick shot in the lobby prior to MBV’s set.
As always (and this is especially true for this weekend), many more photos can be seen on my site
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