Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mogwai Review in Words

I always like to put "in words" in the headline of posts that won't feature any pictures or videos. I know you have a short-attention span, so that's your flag to skip over this post or be prepared to read lots of silly letters strung together. Last night I went to Stubb's to see, the legendary, Mogwai. I know it was a Monday night but I was surprised and a little disappointed that the venue wasn't packed to the gills. I guess Mogwai didn't get a high enough rating on Pitchfork for Austin's hipster-syndicate to throw their jorts on and attend the show. Now that I have all of that bitching out of my system let me tell you about the actual show. I had never seen Mogwai before and I sort of discovered them backwards. I have been a fan of Sigur Rós and Explosions in the Sky, which lead me back to Mogwai. Before seeing them perform I was under the impression that their music was very technical, proggy, math-rocky and while this assumption wasn't completely unfounded, now that I have seen them live I have a different impression. Like Sigur Rós and Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai are not trying to be technicians who graph out perfect song structure and play along to a click track, they are musically emotive. They manipulate their instruments trying to make the audience cry while they are pummeled with waves of harmonic feedback. They perform rock-symphonies, in every track, soundtracking the movie that is the experience of being at the show. I couldn't tell you which tracks were played or which tracks I wish I'd heard them play because I was so mesmerized from start to finish that the 60+ minute set seemed to breeze by as I was trying to figure out, which instrument was making which sound. In short, I'm sure that Mogwai is not for everyone but if it's not for you then we can't be friends anymore.

The only negative thing point I have about the show has to do with how the band utilized the stage. If you've ever been to a show at Stubb's before, then you know the stage itself is quite large and I feel like Mogwai was trying to hide up there through most of the performance. One of the band members switches between playing keyboards and playing guitar and when he wasn't playing guitar there was a huge void, stage-center where he would have been standing. I feel like the guitarist who was hiding behind the speaker tower on stage left should have been setup at stage center so when homeboy who played keys played guitar (for 2 songs) he performed stage-left. Either that or instead of having homeboy on keys share the drummer-riser at the back of the stage, he could setup his keyboards at front, stage-right like most bands do.

As you can tell the show was pretty amazing since the only thing I have to bitch about was the fact that you weren't there and the visual aesthetics of the band's position on stage. Even the crowd was largely reverent, when the songs were quiet the audience was quiet and when the songs were loud, the audience was still quiet. You would almost think people went to the show to listen to the band last night?!?! Mogwai still has 3 more dates on their U.S. tour, including Houston tonight, so if you live in any of those 3 places make sure you check them out. Also, you can download a couple of songs from their latest LP, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will over on the band's Sub Pop page.