posted on April 01, 2009 12:52
A Place To Bury Strangers (live in Whelan's, Dublin)
Review Snapshot: The loudest band in New York brings their Jesus and Mary Chain meets My Bloody Valentine to Whelan’s of Wexford St. It’s an experience, but is definitely not for everyone.
The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10
You wouldn’t find Hitler playing music this loud…
Whelan’s seems to have abandoned its previous and strict curfew of 10.30 pm, as APTBS only took to the stage a few minutes after 11. Three support bands and a headline might seem like good value for €15, but that might not always be the case. The support bands here were Dublin’s own Sweet Jane, and two American outfits, Darker My Love and Dead Confederate. For the most part they were all quite mediocre and repetitive, with the exception of, in parts, Dead Confederate.
And then A Place To Bury Strangers took the stage. After the first few notes I squeezed my ear plugs in. People nearby looked in envy at my friend and I. They clearly were not prepared for the barrage of sound and noise they were about to endure. There were signs posted around the venue stating that strobe lighting was to be used. They should have had one up recommending the use of ear plugs, or even ear muffs.
But it was more than just noise. APTBS are not covering up a lack of talent by becoming ‘New York’s loudest band’ or shrouding their songs in an atmospheric wall-of-sound. Under the squealing guitars and thunderous bass lies melody and rhythms that escape most traditional bands. ‘To Fix The Gash In Your Head’, one of the stand- tracks on the album, was played in pulsating form with Ackermann throwing his guitar about with abandon.
Towards the end of the night the vocals were becoming totally drowned out by the wall of sound. I had to take my plugs out, just to feel the full volume. My head felt like it was about to explode. The visuals being projected behind the band were becoming more and more frenetic. It culminated in a sonic climax. As the volume soared they moved into ‘Ocean’, I saw about ten people leaving. I’m not sure if it was because they had an early start in the morning and it was nearing midnight, or simply because the noise was beyond belief. The girl beside me was desperately trying to pull her partner away, but he was lost in the noise and was unmovable. The music was consuming our bodies. And then it died away. With little ceremony they downed their instruments and left the stage, briefly thanking us.
It was a sonic experience, but I’m not sure if I would put myself through it again, unless they really tap into their potential on their next record. Their music does at time lack variety, and any longer than the 45 minutes they played would have dragged. Their music has ambition though, and this might just be the beginnings of something quite impressive. They might be shoe-gaze, but they are looking to the stars. My only gripe would be that I think some of the people at the bar could not hear them clearly!