Godspeed You Black Emperor / Fly Pan Am / Sigur Ros
Temple Bar Music Centre, Dublin, 2 April 2000
What a line-up. Jesus, two of the best names for bands ever and something in a foreign language. Expectation is high.
Fly Pan Am. What a bunch of hippies. Doing the whole Ravi Shankar raga thing on guitars and then plugging instruments in and out, using all the electronic wrong sounds scratching and blerping to build an long Repetitive groove to bliss out on. They sit on the on the floor, smoke, and groove on the other instruments. There was something that did sound like a pan am jet engine though. I like this kind of stuff a lot, a real love-in with noughties noise levels.
Sigur Ros - the Icelandic Travis - playing whale song and seagull screech, to a backdrop of 'Visit Iceland in a helicopter' visuals. The lead singer has this fragile girl voice that is undeniably expressive. He sings into his guitar strings at one point making the string vibrate in resonance with his pure vocal note. I didn't know that, it was pointed out. Though another muso friend of mine claimed it had something to do with a reverb box placed on the strings - I'm none the wiser. I thought he was going to do a Jimi Hendrix (not die from misadventure, but play the guitar with his teeth.) He'd been doing a Jimmy Page all night with the violin bow on his guitar, so it made a change.
Sigur Ros do something similar to Godspeed, but with fewer musicians and far better haircuts. They look prettier too. If I was to put a bet on which band was going to be the most successful it would be this Icelandic bunch any day. Shades of Radiohead there.
Godspeed, how many on stage? Maybe nine - strings, two bass two drummers two guitar players several, samples all over. I guess all tonight's bands could be termed orchestral rock, but Godspeed seem to be the closest to that. I wonder how, with so many musicians in the band, do they manage to write anything. It's as if one musician comes in with a riff on guitar or whatever, and everyone else gradually piles their own ideas on top until there's a huge wall of sound assaulting the audience. This is very impressive.
Most of the time it seems that the two girls playing violin and cello are holding the whole thing together. The other musicians are directing their attention to them, riffing wildly on their own as the mood takes them. They also flail around in their seated positions as if severely disturbed.
The music itself is simple riffs and is interested in LOUD and soft, moving between the two with the odd voice samples thrown in for variation. The usual mad-man-on-the-street-talking-about-the-apocalypse stuff. What starts as a nothing, quickly bends itself into a nosebleed as the hippies on the floor flail about, increasingly deranged, clutching their guitars close to their chests right in front of the amps.
Towards the end of the gig, one of the amps audibly (above the volume) blows with a cracking explosion, and they couldn't have asked for better - a perfect sound effect.