Live review: The Big Pink, A Place to Bury Strangers @ the Bluebird TheaterBy Billy Thieme | April 13th, 2010 | 2 comments
The progeny of ’80s shoegaze and noise — particularly the genre inspired by by bands like My Bloody Valentine and Spacemen 3 (to name a few heavy hitters) — is alive and still evolving, still inspiring, and still very, very loud. The Bluebird Theater hosted the lineup of the Big Pink and A Place to Bury Strangers, two bands riding some pretty solid popularity now, last Sunday night that proved the genre’s vitality. As sparse as the crowd was at times, it was an enthusiastic one, enthralled with being ensconced in smoke, strobe lights, thick, sweeping melodies and driving rhythms — all at skin-saturating volume — for a few hours.
The Big Pink, a duo of music whiz kids from London — namely frontman Robbie Furze on guitar and Milo Cordell on synth — were joined on stage by bassist Leopold Ross and drummer Akiko Matsuura. Furze poised a positively glam stage presence — sometimes (only visually) recalling a younger David Johansen — as he cut swaths of guitar noise from layer after layer of thick stage smoke, while Cordell hid inside his hoody and provided an additional foundation of electronica. Matsuura and Ross filled out with distorted bass and drums that conjured up a Sandinista-era Clash dub rhythm influence, underneath a heavy Jesus & Mary Chain-meets-My Bloody Valentine vibe in arrangements.
Big Pink’s set was highlighted by songs such as the beautiful “Velvet,” “A Brief History of Love” and the encore-killing “Dominos,”
as the crowd was happily overwhelmed.
Part of their enthusiasm came from a typically charged set by tour mates A Place to Bury Strangers, often called Brooklyn’s loudest band. The trio featured Oliver Ackermann on guitar, Jono Mofo on bass and Jay Space on drums, and I can attest to the accuracy behind that claim. Their set was among the loudest I’d seen in a while (and yes, I did see MBV last summer), and they seem to get louder each time I do.
As much as I can appreciate the freedom that comes with playing at maximum volume, though, APTBS seemed to have stopped short of much content after that. They bathed the Bluebird in thick smoke for their entire set, and flashed strobes and projected images of static and random forms onto the crowd and ceilings — which likely presented a challenge to some in the audience’s resistance to grand mal seizure — which gave their overwhelming volume a strong visual, almost tactile presence.
This kind of massive sonic over-stimulation is something I have an endless love for, but I kept hearing from audience members after their set that this appreciation isn’t necessarily shared. All the flash, confusion and noise did a lot, but ended up feeling flat as the band’s only offering, judging by the number of people that cleared out of the theater after about half the set.
Of course, that mayhem may have been simply too much to take after three or four tunes. Pussies.
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