This has been a good year for shoegaze. Two legendary British shoegaze bands returned after long absences with great records. One of them is RIDE (Andy Bell, Loz Colbert, Mark Gardener, and Steve Queralt), whose newest record, The Weather Diaries, is a welcome return and a sharp piece of work.
Opener “Lannoy Point” has the layered, echoing guitars you love from RIDE and lyrics about being wiser with the passage of time. They’re ready to get a lot of stuff off their chests. You can’t help but think the hard-hitting “Charm Assault” is about certain politicians on both sides of the pond. Lyrics like “Your charm assault has scarred the world. It looks so ugly as your lies begin to unfurl.” and “Privilege abused at every turn. Serious as a heart attack, he’s standing. He sets fire to your world and lets it burn.” hit as hard as the drum beats.
“All I Want” was one of the first singles off the record, and the decision to make it so was a no-brainer. It blends shoegaze and electro very well (and those drum beats are jaw-dropping), and the lyrics cover familiar shoegaze ground – loneliness and the urge to improve one’s lot in life. “Home Is a Feeling” is lovely dream pop, and the title track could be about global warming, but I think it’s about being overwhelmed by media (“When I was younger, it was simple. You didn’t have to question everything.”) – and the guitars build to a static-like roar by the end.
The name of “Rocket Silver Symphony” pretty much sums up the way the song sounds. It’s electric, bold, bright, and bursting with energy. “Lateral Alice,” a song taken from some of Andy Bell’s dreams, is a kick-ass rocker. “Cali” is Bell’s love letter to surf, sand, and sun in the U.S. The guitars in it are as wonderful as you hope they’ll be in such a song, and the vocals get ahold of your mind and won’t let go. You’ll want this on every summer playlist you make now.
“Impermanence” is a beautiful song about the end of things – life, relationships, even random physical objects like windowpanes. Bell tries to cope with the end of a relationship (while guitars soar all around his vocals) by meditating on the impermanence of all things, but it doesn’t help him much. “White Sands” (another song referencing beaches) muses on illusions we create and our struggles to let go of them. It’s hypnotizing in many ways, as is most of the record.
Good shoegaze always hypnotizes you. It causes you to get lost in dreamscapes and to notice the moment around you. It’s nice to have these musical Zen masters back among us.
As the story goes, Dion Lunadon, known to many as the bass player and co-mastermind of A Place to Bury Strangers, was feeling restless during a break in APTBS’ tour schedule. So, he poured that restless energy into his first solo album and gave the world a frantic, wild piece of noise-punk that has some fun surprises in it.
The album’s opener is a raging piece against something we all have to deal with – “Insurance, Rent, and Taxes.” The song flattens you with squelching sound and Robi Gonzalez (who used to play for APTBS). Lundaon sings, “Much too young to get any older.” on the swinging “Reduction Agent.” Lunadon reveals his love of dirty juke joint blues in the track in both the rhythm and lyrics (“I’ve got the mark of death. It won’t leave me alone.”). The organ and bass on “Fire” burns as hot as its namesake, building to a crazy blender-like frenzy. “Com / Broke” is your new favorite song for trying to beat rush hour traffic. Just be careful, as Lunadon’s lyrics do involve car crashes, fires, and self-destruction.
“Hanging By a Thread” is a post-punk (and nearly instrumental) surprise with guitars that sound like industrial saws. The industrial grind continues on “Move,” and Lunadon’s vocals sounds like the Borg has assimilated him. The drums blast the doors off the song around the 1:30 mark and you’re holding on for dear life by that point.
“Eliminator” is fierce noise-punk, and “Howl” is about Lunadon’s joy in expressing himself in the spotlight. It’s like something Lou Reed blasted out of his speakers when getting ideas for Metal Machine Music.
Believe it or not, “Ripper” is a psychobilly cut and Lunadon and crew have a blast on it. I couldn’t help but grin through the whole track. “White Fence,” on the other hand, is more fine post-punk with weirdly angled guitars and desperate vocal stylings. The closer, “No Control,” brings Lunadon’s album back into weird psychedelia before a quick, distorted fade out leaves you gasping for breath.
This debut solo record is quite a statement. It’s powerful, brash, and even fun. More debuts need to be this self-assured.
Keep your mind open.
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Somehow multiple decades have gone by without me catching electro legends Depeche Modelive. The dates finally worked out, and my wife and I were able to see them and shoegaze / post-punk newcomers Warpaintat Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.
Warpaint played a good set of crisp post-punk with snappy bass lines and even snappier drumming (which would be a theme for the entire night). I’d heard a lot of good things about them, and they didn’t disappoint. I need to find more of their material.
Out came Depeche Mode to the Beatles’ “Revolution,” a major theme for their new album – Spirit. They rolled into “Going Backwards,” “So Much Love,” and “Barrel of a Gun” (which included a snippet of Grand Master Flash’s “The Message,” which cracked me up).
The crowd (which filled the stadium, apart from the unsold / unused seats behind the stage, by the way) jumped to its feet when they broke into “World In My Eyes.” It was a reminder of not only their electro prowess, but how much influence they’ve had on Trent Reznor. An acoustic version of “Question of Lust,” sung by MartinGore,was a crowd favorite, and the follow-up of “Home” was excellent.
“Where’s the Revolution?” – the first single off Spirit – was another standout and essentially the band’s rallying cry for fans old and new to stand up against The Man. “Everything Counts” is also staggeringly relevant for these times, even though it’s decades old by now. It preceded “Stripped,” “Enjoy the Silence” (which was almost entirely sung by the now-bonkers crowd), and “Never Let Me Down Again” – which was better live than I even hoped it would be (and drummer Christian Eigner was absolutely slaying his kit by this point).
The encore started with “Somebody,” included a nice cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes,” and finished with big hits “I Feel You” and “Personal Jesus,” which had everyone raising their hands to “reach out and touch faith.”
It was long overdue, but very welcome. My wife immediately listened to their new album as soon as we got back from the show. She woke up the next day with Depeche Mode songs in their head, and I’ve had “Never Let Me Down Again” stuck in my brain for days.
Noisy, subversively catchy and rhythmically sophisticated, Chicago quartet Melkbelly emerge from Chicago’s DIY spaces with their debut album, Nothing Valley, out Oct. 13th on Wax Nine Records, a sister label to Carpark Records headed by Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz.
Melkbelly’s members live and breathe Chicago’s art and music underground where their paths crossed and alliances were forged. Vocalist/guitarist Miranda Winters played solo in folk rock project reddelicious. Brothers Bart and Liam Winters (the tall fellas playing guitar and bass in Melkbelly) ran an influential show space in Chicago. Drawn together by their passion for East Coast noise, particularly the flavor originating from Miranda’s previous homebase of Providence, RI, Miranda and Bart of Coffin Ships recruited James Wetzel, who studied jazz drums in college, from improvisational free-drum/noise duo Ree-Yees. This new group of friends orbiting the loft and art scene, began collaborating on each other’s projects, formalizing in a more guitar-driven quartet Melkbelly in 2014.
Melkbelly’s debut EP Pennsylvania came out that same year. Engineered by Cooper Crain of Cave/Bitchin’ Bajas, the record came easily. The Chicago Reader enthused for single “Doomspringa” with its “noisy guitar freak-outs” and “beautifully melodic verses” and compared Melkbelly, accurately, to a hybrid of the Breeders and Lightning Bolt.
In 2016, the band tested the waters with new material. Inspired by the geography of a West Coast tour, shared band experiences, the van “as a magical place” and failed touristic detours at a meteor crater (it was closed) and Spiral Jetty (not van-friendly), the band gathered material written by Miranda and spawned from recorded jams for its next album. In early 2017, Melkbelly recorded with Dave Vettraino at Chicago’s Public House, writing about half the album in the studio and tracking it to 8-track analog tape. The result is Nothing Valley, organized noise and thoughtful freneticism, a fusion of dreamy vocal lines and cantankerous guitar racket. Today they share the video for “Kid Kreative.” “Kid Kreative is about creating a unique aesthetic in art or music only to have it hijacked and manhandled by someone else who reaps the rewards,” explains Miranda Winters. “It was inspired by existing as a woman in the predominantly male space of loud-music where it’s easy to be both looked over and ‘borrowed’ from.”
Day three of the Pitchfork Music Festivalstarted out a bit chilly as the Windy City was living up to its nickname, but we soon got our sweaty groove on thanks to a great set by Chicago house music legend and pioneer Derrick Carter.
For those of you who weren’t dancing during his set, please see a doctor because something is wrong with you. He put on a house music clinic. It was a great way to start the day.
We also heard a bit of Colin Stetson‘s set. He plays this wild, droning, hypnotizing saxophone music that is difficult to describe but quite mesmerizing. We had plenty of time before Ride‘s set, so we met up with my college pal and his husband again before heading off to do a little shopping and eating.
Ride put on a good set of shoegaze that was a great switch from all the hip hop, electro, and funk we heard during the festival. Unfortunately, they had a shortened set due to some early technical difficulties, but they played new and old material and blasted all of us with the final song of their set. It was a loud, distorted, fuzzed-out assault. “I needed that,” said one man next to me by the time they were done.
Ride did a signing at the record fair afterwards, and I scored a signed copy of their newest album, Weather Diaries (review coming soon). They were happy to meet everybody, and I’m happy to report they had a long line of fans there.
Mandy caught Jamilla Woods‘ set, which she enjoyed very much, after she’d been moved from the Blue Stage to the Green Stage due to the Avalanchescancelling their performance. According to their Twitter feed, a family member one of the band members had some sort of dire medical emergency. My college pal came to the festival mainly to see them, so he was more than annoyed they weren’t playing. He and his husband learned via a Google search that the Avalanches are about as finicky as Morrissey when it comes to performing.
Thankfully, Nicolas Jaarput on an excellent set of his experimental electro / trance music that was both psychedelic and dance-inspiring at the same time. At about the halfway point of his set, a guy in front of me turned to his friends and said, “This is the best set I’ve seen all weekend.” and then left.
We split after that, beating the crowds and stopping to meet artist Jay Ryan so we could get one of his posters. He does really neat and cute art for a lot of bands and other projects. We already had a Bob Mould tour poster of his hanging in our living room, and now Mandy has a “It’s Time to Read” poster that will go in her office featuring bears, cats, and a wooly mammoth reading books.
I walked out with a new pair of sunglasses and CD’s by Screaming Females, Vacation, Waxahatchee, Tycho, Priests, Slowdive, She-Devils, Ride, and Wavves, and even a cassette by a band called Diagonal. I’ll have reviews of all this stuff in the coming months.
All in all, the Pitchfork Music Festival was a good time. We’d go back if the lineup was good and we could stay close to the festival. As it’s been for the last few festivals I’ve attended, VIP tickets don’t look worth the money. It’s not as laid back as a Levitation festival, but still fun. It also could’ve used a little more rock, in my opinion, but it was worth the trip.
Keep your mind open.
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Influential British shoegaze band Ride broke up in 1996 after just six years and a couple albums, but they got back together in 2015 and have a new album, Weather Diaries, out this year. Ride’s performance at the Pitchfork Music Festival on July 16th will be one of the highlights of the weekend, as not many expected a Ride reunion, let alone a new album or tour. They sound like they haven’t lost anything after 20 years, so don’t miss their set if you’ll be in Chicago that weekend.
SLOWDIVE ANNOUNCE MORE US TOUR DATES;
WATCH NPR MUSIC’S FIELD RECORDING
SLOWDIVE IS ONE OF THE BEST REVIEWED ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
Slowdive‘s self-titled album, released last month via Dead Oceans, is one of the best-reviewed albums of the year so far. Following a sold out North American tour in advance of its release, the band are announcing a return to the continent in the fall, to perform in cities both new and old. Prior to that, they’ll be appearing at FYF Fest in Los Angeles on July 21st.
Also, today saw the release of an incredible stripped back NPR Music Field Recording that the band filmed while in New York in May. Watch below.
SLOWDIVE TOUR DATES (new dates in bold) Fri. June 16 – Sun. June 18 – Mannheim, DE @ Maifeld Derby Sat. July 1 – Roskilde, Denmark @ Roskilde Festival Thurs. July 6 – Trencin, Slovakia @ Pohoda Festival Fri. July 7 – Madrid, ES @ Mad Cool Festival Sun. July 9 – Six Four Les Plages, France@ Pointu Festival Fri. July 21 – Los Angeles, CA @ FYF Fest Fri. July 28– South Korea @ Valley Rock Festival Sun. July 30 – Tahar Shi, Japan @ Fuji Rock Festival Sat. Aug. 19 – Trondheim, Norway @ Pstereo Festival Fri. 25 Aug. – Switzerland @ Nox Orae Festival Sat. Aug. 27 – Paris, France @ Rock En Seine Festival Thu. Aug. 31 – Salisbury, UK @ End of the Road Festival Sat. Sept. 2 – Milano, Italy @ Un Altro Festival Thu. Sept. 7 – Tel Aviv, Israel @ Barby Club Fri. Sept. 15 – Sat. 16 Sept. – Angers, France @ Levitation Fest Sun. Sept. 17 – Birmingham, UK @ Beyond the Tracks Festival Fri. Sept. 29 – Dortmund, Germany @Way Back When Festival Sat. Sept. 30 – Copenhagen, Denmark @ DR Koncerthuset Mon. Oct. 2 – Warsaw, Poland – @ Palladium Tues. Oct. 3 – Berlin, Germany @ Huxley’s
Weds. Oct. 4 – Hamburg, Germany @Uebel & Gefaehrlich Fri. Oct. 6 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso Sat. Oct. 7 – Brussels, Belgium @ Botanique Mon. Oct. 9 – Glasgow, UK @ ABC Tues. Oct. 10 – Manchester, UK @Albert Hall
Weds. Oct. 11 – Leeds, UK @ Town Hall Fri. Oct. 13 – London, UK @ Roundhouse Mon. Oct. 23 – Vancouver, BC @ The Commodore Wed. Oct. 25 – Seattle, WA @ The Neptune Thu. Oct. 26 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom Sat. Oct. 28 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater Wed. Nov. 1 – Denver, CO @ The Ogden Sat. Nov. 4 – Madison, WI @ Barrymore Theatre Sun. Nov. 5 – Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre Tue. Nov. 7 – Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall Wed. Nov. 8 – Detroit, MI @ Majestic Theatre Thu. Nov. 9 – Buffalo, NY @ Town Hall Fri. Nov. 10 – Toronto, ON @ CANADA @ Massey Hall Sat. Nov. 11 – New Haven, CT @ College St Music Hall Sun. Nov. 12 – New York City, NY @ Terminal 5 Tue. Nov. 14 – Boston,MA @ Paradise Wed. Nov. 15 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer Thu. Nov. 16 – Baltimore, MD @ Ram’s Head Fri. Nov. 17 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
“A precise and altogether gorgeous showcase of their peerless ability at production, mood, and songcraft.” – Pitchfork [Best New Music]
“Listening to Slowdive is like watching the sunrise and sunset at once — an awe-inspiring chorus of the galaxy.” – NPR Music
“Slowdive carries all the right baggage from the band’s past, but the album leaves no question about the direction they’re traveling in. They’re carrying this sound towards the future.” – Stereogum
“Throughout Slowdive, the band use foggy images and slippery transitions as a soothing sort of déjà vu—you feel like you’ve been here before, even though you obviously haven’t.” – SPIN [SPIN Essential]
“With this self-titled record, their first in 22 years, Slowdive definitively prove that some bands have enough creative juice to get back together and make some incredible music.” – Vulture
“The result is as beautiful and stilling as ever.” – AV Club
“Dreamy vocals, thick melancholia, heavy guitar treatments. And ‘Slomo,’ the opening track, is a goddamn minor miracle. Welcome back, shoegaze friends.” – Newsweek
Oliver Ackermann, lead singer and guitarist of A Place to Bury Strangers, was kind enough to chat with me before the band’s performance at Chicago’s Thalia Hall on May 11th opening for the Black Angels. We talked about the tour, the New York music scene, bassist Dion Lunadon’s upcoming album, shoegaze bands, and where to get good tamales.
7th Level Music: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I’m really looking forward to the show.
Oliver Ackermann: Cool, man. Thanks so much. We’re psyched to be coming there. We’ve been doing some crazy things at some of these shows. Definitely with the energy of Chicago, I’m sure it’ll be crazy.
7LM: Have you ever played Thalia Hall?
OA: No, is that place cool?
7LM: It is very cool. It’s a converted opera house, so the acoustics in there are great.
OA: That sounds so rad.
7LM: It is a very cool venue. I’ve been told the restaurant there is amazing, but I’ve never eaten there.
OA: Oh, cool. Hopefully they give us a discount or something like that.
7LM: If not, I can recommend a place. A short walk east is this really good tamale restaurant (Dia De Los Tamales – 939 West 18th Street).
OA: Really good tamales? That sounds delicious.
7LM: If you get there early enough, I highly recommend that.
OA: Awesome. Maybe we’ll hit that up.
7LM: The other day I was describing your music to somebody, and I said it’s kind of like a Zen master whacking you with a stick on the head.
OA (chuckling, as he’s clearly never heard that before): Okay.
7LM: The reason I came up with that analogy was because the last time I saw you guys was in Detroit when you played with Groomsand Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor. Rick from the Sisters and I were at the back of the venue chatting, and you guys come on and as soon as your set started it literally knocked the sound out of our mouths.
OA (laughing): Awesome.
7LM: I got to thinking about it, and your music has that effect on people where it shakes people out of things.
OA: Sure. That kind of makes some sense. There are those shows that you go to and have your mind blown and we’re always trying to hark back upon those moments.
7LM: I remember the first time my wife and I saw you was at one of the Levitation shows. You played at the Mohawk. You completely floored us, and I had a similar experience. By the end of it, I was standing there thinking, “I’ve never seen anything like this.” It was great.
OA: That’s awesome. Right on.
7LM: How influenced is your sound from living in New York and being from that area, if at all?
OA: I don’t know. I wonder that, too. Sometimes I feel like we have no influence from that. I’m so busy in New York and we don’t always get to do things, and there’s so much crazy stuff going on, but I guess that must be an influence as well. There are a lot of great creative people that can definitely drive you, but I feel so disconnected from the scene.
7LM: I was watching some of your videos, and I noticed this reoccurring theme in the videos, and some of the lyrics, about how technology separates us from each other. Maybe I’m overreaching here, but it seems like you touch on those themes a lot.
OA: Sure. Definitely. That’s pretty funny you bring that up. That’s definitely a theme of some of our music. Sometimes you want to go a little old school, and you kind of miss some of those days of just being able to wander and go meet your friends if they were there, or having to go knock on their window. I think it brings us together as well, so maybe that’s just part of it.
7LM: Is Lia (Braswell) still drumming with you guys?
OA: Lia is drumming with us, yeah. That has been awesome. That’s definitely been a big influence on where our sound is going.
7LM: How did you two meet Lia?
OA: (Bassist) Dion (Lunadon) had seen her play in a friend’s band, Baby Acid, and said she was a wicked drummer. We were looking for different people to play with, so we invited her over to play drums, and she was amazing.
7LM: I saw her play with Lindsey Troy of Deap Vally and she killed it.
OA: We actually first met in Los Angeles. I was out there doing some sort of job for a friend and I didn’t have a place to stay. He was staying at this house with some friends of his. I spent the night at the house because he offered a place to stay. We met again back in New York when he moved there in 2007 or so. He was in the D4 and a bunch of killer bands.
7LM: A friend of mine wanted me to ask you what your favorite shoegaze bands were, and I know the Jesus and Mary Chainis one.
OA: I’ve only heard a couple of the songs. It sounded awesome, though. I’m super-psyched to hear the whole thing. What do you think of that record?
7LM: I like it. I’ve heard the first two singles. In some ways it’s like they just stepped right out of a time machine and in other ways it sounds like they’re moving in this cool new direction.
OA: Yeah, for sure. I’m excited to hear the whole record and maybe if they make another record after this what comes out of it.
7LM: I have a few questions I always ask bands I interview. One of them is, do you have any influences that you think would surprise some of your fans?
OA: Oh, for sure. I like a lot of different music. What do you think people would be surprised by?
7LM: Well, the reason I always ask bands this is because I once heard an interview with Rob Halford of Judas Priestand he was asked this question. He said, “You’re never gonna believe this, but I’m a massive Hank Williams, Sr. fan.” Ever since then I’ve been intrigued with hearing about what influences people have that others might not realize they have.
OA: I love Hank Williams, Sr.
7LM: Yeah, me too.
OA: Yeah, totally. That stuff’s awesome. I don’t know, in this day and age is anyone going to be surprised by anything?
7LM: That’s a really good point. Another question I always ask is, do you have any favorite misheard versions of your lyrics?
OA: I wish I could remember, because there sure are some funny ones out there. It’s kind of cool because when you hear them a lot of times they kind of morph into what makes sense for the people. I really like that. It turns personal for them, which is kind of the point of our music.
7LM: That gets back to the thing I believe where your music changes people’s perceptions, especially live.
OA: Totally. That’s the goal for a lot of our music. It’s a state between life and fantasy and to be able to let go of some of your thoughts and troubles.
7LM: When I saw you in Detroit, you came out into the audience with your instruments and I loved how you made this cool moment where you brought this technology into the crowd, but instead of technology pushing people away it was this big communal thing.
OA: Yeah, that’s a great thing. I think that’s pretty awesome. Not everybody will do that to connect with the audience. We always welcome anybody and everybody to jump up on stage or pull us down or whatever to connect and make it a communal event.
7LM: Do you write grooves first or lyrics first? Or does it depend on the song?
OA: It depends on the song. We always try to reinvent writing songs all the time we do it. It depends on what’s inspiring you. Sometimes it starts with an idea and some lyrics, or sometimes the music brings out a whole story or a mood. Even more recently, we’ve kind of been writing all of it at once. It’s kind of a weird, wild thing. I’ve always fantasized about having a band where you didn’t have any songs written before you played the shows, and you would play a whole bunch of songs at that moment. You start to do this thing where you unconsciously tap into a really pure experience and it draws you in a different direction. You’d dig deep and reveal some things maybe you wouldn’t be comfortable revealing in that moment.
7LM: If you ever do that, I hope I can get to one of those shows.
OA: Right on.
7LM: I’m one of those guys where if I go to a show and the band gets up and says, “We’re gonna play a bunch of stuff you’ve never heard before.” I’m the guy in the back saying, “Fantastic!”
OA: Awesome. I always like that, too. At least to hear some sort of challenge. It’s all about the excitement at that type of show. I’m sure there’s band where I’d be disappointed in that, too.
7LM: Well, the opposite of that is that after we see you guys tonight, we’re driving down to St. Louis to see Tom Petty and Joe Walsh.
OA: Oh, wow, that sounds awesome. That should be so cool. I’ve never seen them.
OA: Dion’s new album isout next month. I’ve heard it. It’s fucking awesome.
7LM: I’ve heard the two tracks that he’s released so far, and I thought, “Holy crap! He’s gunning.”
OA: Oh yeah, it’s so powerful.
7LM: I’ve always thought that about him. When I saw you guys in Austin the first time, it was two songs into your set and he body slammed his bass on the stage so damn hard and I thought, “Holy crap, we’re really in for something.”
OA: Yeah, he’s hit himself in the head a couple times, bled all over the place, climbed up on some things that everybody else would be scared to climb on. I’ve seen him do some crazy things.
7LM: Are you your own guitar tech? I’ve seen the way you handle that thing.
OA: Totally. Yeah, we are all our own instrument techs.
7LM: That’s fantastic. It reminds of when I was in a garage band in college, and our guitarist would cut holes in his guitar and take it apart to get different sounds out of it. I see you getting the craziest sounds out of your guitar by mauling it.
OA: Yeah, you gotta play your instrument to the fullest.
7LM: Where are you off to after Chicago?
OA: We’re going to Minneapolis. We’re playing First Avenue. Purple Rain, Prince, it should be awesome.
7LM: Well thanks for all this. Break a leg tonight. Not literally, of course.
OA: For sure. See you tonight.
[Thanks again to Oliver Ackermann, Lia Braswell, Dion Lunadon, Burgers Rana, and Steven Matrick for being so groovy, arranging this interview and my press pass to the Thalia Hall show, and for the lighter.]
I will see The Black Angelsor A Place to Bury Strangersat any opportunity, so having them both on the same bill is a win-win and a must-see for me. Seeing them in Chicago’s Thalia Hall was an added bonus because the acoustics there are outstanding and there isn’t a bad place to stand or sit in the joint.
A Place to Bury Strangers were prompt, starting the show at 9:00pm sharp (which seems to be a trend in Chicago venues as of late). They came out as they always do – loud and heavy. They opened with “We’ve Come So Far” from Transfixiation and it was off to the races. The addition of Lia Braswell on drums is a great one, as she practically beat her kit into the floor. Her backing vocals bring a new dimension to many APTBS tracks, and I hope this trend continues on some new material. Guitarist and lead singer Oliver Ackermann was on fire for their whole set.
They ended their set with a wild sequencer / synth / bass / light show that I’d seen them do before in Detroit. They moved into the crowd and were soon casting laser lights and weird, warping synths beats and Dion Lunadon’s growling bass licks throughout the whole hall.
As if that weren’t trippy enough, the Black Angels started their set with this image.
“Take your acid now,” said a friend of mine upon seeing this. The Black Angels opened up with “Currency,” the first single off their new album – Death Song(review coming soon). “Bad Vibrations” (always a favorite) followed, and it again wowed the crowd.
This was the sixth time I’ve seen the Black Angels (and the third I’ve seen APTBS), and this might’ve been the heaviest set I’ve seen by them. My wife (who’s seen them five of the six times with me) noticed this, too. The version of “You On the Run” they played was certainly the heaviest I’d heard. It bordered on stoner metal. Christian Bland’s guitar seemed cranked to 11 in terms of volume and distortion for the entire show. Stephanie Bailey further cemented her prowess as one of the best rock drummers of our time. I say this every time I see the Black Angels live: Stephanie Bailey is their secret weapon. I later realized this was the first show I’d seen in a while in which both bands had powerful drummers.
They played many tracks from the new record. “Half Believing,” “Comanche Moon,” “I Dreamt,” “Medicine,” “Grab As Much As You Can,” and “Death March” all sounded great. They closed with “Young Men Dead,” which made one man behind me so happy that he rushed ahead of me to head-bang and share his one-hitter with the strangers to his left and right.
This made six good shows in a row from the Black Angels and three straight for APTBS in my experience. This tour is selling out across the country, so you’d better get your tickets soon if you want to catch it. I also must give a salute to the two men who make up the Mustachio Light Show. They provided all the wild and stunning visuals during the Black Angels’ set. It’s a great addition to this tour.
Thanks to Oliver Ackermann, Steven Matrick, and Burgers Rana for getting me a press pass to this show. I’ll have an interview with Oliver Ackermann posted soon as well.
THEE OH SEES ANNOUNCE AUGUST & SEPTEMBER TOUR DATES
Today, Los Angeles-based force of nature Thee Oh Sees announce a new batch of tour dates for the late summer that spans both the USA and the European continent. Could the new dates be an indicator of a busy 2017 from the John Dwyer-led outfit? Could these dates point to the possibility of a new record(s)? One can only hope…
THEE OH SEES TOUR DATES (new tour dates in bold): Sat. Apr. 29 – Norman, OK @ Norman Music Festival Fri. May 5 – Winterthur, CH @ Salzhaus Sat. May 6 – Frankfort, GE @ Zoom Sun. May 7– Rotterdam, NL @ Rotown Mon. May 8 – Berlin, GE @ Columbia Theater Wed. May 10 – Clermont-Ferrand, FR @ La Coopérative de Mai Thu. May 11 – La Rochelle, FR @ La Sirène Fri. May 12 – Rouen, FR @ Le 106
Sat. May 13 – Lyon, FR @ L’épicerie Moderne Sun. May 14 – Paris, FR @ Trabendo Tue. May 16 – Nottingham, UK @ Rock City Wed. May 17 – Brighton, UK @ Clarendon Centre Thu. May 18 – Nantes, FR @ Stereolux Fri. May 19 – Rennes, FR @ Antipode Sat. May 20 – Reims, FR @ La Magnifique Society Sun. May 21 – Brussels, BE @ L’Ancienne Belgique Fri. May 26 – George, WA @ Sasquatch Festival Sat. June 3 – London, UK @ Field Day Festival Mon. June 4 – Bristol, UK @ SWX Wed. June 6 – Metz, FR @ La BAM Thu. June 7 – Milano, IT @ Magnolia Fri. June 8 – Ravenna, IT @ Beaches Brew Sat. June 9 – Dudingen, CH @ Bad Bonn Sun. June 10 – Nimes, FR @ This Is Not A Love Song Mon. June 11 – Bordeaux, FR @ le block Tue. June 12 – Tours, FR @ le temps machine Thu. June 14 – Manchester University, UK @ Transformers Sat. June 17 – San Francisco, CA @ Phono Del Sol Festival Sat. July 22 – Sun. July 23 – Los Angeles, CA @ FYF Sun. Aug. 6 – Katowice, PL @ OFF Festival Tue. Aug. 8 – Hamburg, DE @ Molotow Thu. Aug. 10 – Oslo, NO @ Oya Festival Fri. Aug. 11 – Gothenburg, DW @ Way Out West Festival Sat. Aug. 12 – Copenhagen, DK @ Pumpehuset Fri. Aug. 18 – Saint Malo, FR @ La Route du Rock Sat. Aug. 19 – Brecon Beacons, UK @ Green Man Festival Fri. Sept. 1 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom Sat. Sept. 2 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sister Bar Mon. Sept. 4 – Austin, TX @ Hotel Vegas Outside Tue. Sept. 5 – New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jack’s Wed. Sept. 6 – Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse Fri. Sept. 8 – Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero Theater Sun. Sept. 10 – Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw Wed. Sept. 13 – Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair Thu. Sept. 14 – Montreal, QC @ La Tulipe I Le National Fri. Sept. 15 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Theater Sat. Sept. 16 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom Sun. Sept. 17 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall Tue. Sept. 19 – Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Fri. Sept. 22 – Missoula, MT @ Monk’s Sun. Sept. 24 – Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom Mon. Sept. 25 – Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom