Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Bloody Valentine, Live SF

I promised myself to blog about the My Bloody Valentine show once my ears stopped ringing. A couple of weeks have passed, so now’s the time. As I mentioned previously I greet these reunion/classic album tours with a degree of skepticism. Going to a concert in 2008 to relive the salad days of 1991 causes me a degree of queasiness. Yet, I didn’t hesitate to drop $90 on a pair of tickets to see MBV. The fact that the show was on my birthday might have helped quash the inner cynic and loosen the purse strings. But, what can I say? I love MBV and Loveless is one of those records that has grown in stature over the ages and one that sonically holds up. The balance of savage guitar work and ethereal beauty is a balance few bands have ever managed to capture. Interestingly we saw them on the Loveless tour and I remember being pretty blasé about it. The band was a suckhole of energy and the keyboard mix was so high I questioned what the hell the guitars were even doing. That show ended with a fantastic, 10+ minute, locked-groove drone that was otherworldly. But other than that I was non-plussed. So strangely, 17 years later I was back for more.

The night started out kind of dodgy. I had been fighting off illness for several days and had I not already spent the money the chances that I would willingly go out and stay up past midnight were slim. Basically, the last thing I wanted to do that night was go to a rock show. Also, the show was at a non-conventional rock venue. Doors listed as 7, show 8. Would it really start at 8? Hard to set the rock clock. Plus, we didn’t have a clue if there were openers or not. No info forthcoming even on the internet. So we dutifully got there at 7:45. Suckers. The doors didn’t even open until 8, plus there were two openers. Yikes. Spectrum was one of the bands. And as much as I love the Spacemen 3, one of the worst shows I have ever seen was Sonic Boom’s E.A.R. The most underwhelming 20 minutes of knob twiddling I had ever seen. I was tired, feverish and dubious.

But apparently good things come to those who wait. Spectrum opened with the Spacemen’s Transparent Radiation and proceed to bust through an entire set of Spacemen 3 songs capping it off with Suicide. Holy crap. Now that’s a reunion I would have paid to see. As a surprise bonus experience, it was out of sight. Sadly, almost nobody in the throng seemed to know what was going on, but nuts to them. Their loss.

As for My Bloody Valentine, what can I say? Their set ruled. I had been warned how loud the tour was, and no joke, it was blistering. Maybe the loudest show I’ve ever heard. I’m not one for earplugs. Dampens the experience. But 3 songs in, the plugs were in my ear holes. This time through there was no mistaking the power of the guitars. They were hot and heavy in the mix. The band is still somewhat of a vacuum on stage, but 17 years later, with more money to mount a stage show they could pull it off. With a big flashing light show, trippy video projection behind them and a massive wall of sound to envelop you, there was no problem getting sucked in. They sounded great. More savagery than beauty than on the records, but that’s the way it should be for a live show. They also pulled heavily from Isn’t Anything which has subsequently been in heavy rotation in my house. As for the finale? This time it was a gargantuan, 20 minute ear-shattering slog . A slow, sonically brutal endurance test for the ages.

No comments: