Show Review: Mogwai @ Stubbs (5/16)

Mogwai have been making a name for themselve for years, brandishing noisy post-rock in the live setting, pushing your eardrums to their limit.  They returned to Austin on a breezy Monday night, bringing their fellow Scots, Errors, along for the ride. 

When Errors took to the stage, I expected sort of your run-of-the-mill post rock effort, infused with glitches and bleeps.  To a certain extent, that is precisely what I got, but perhaps I didn’t give the band enough credit.  Their throbbing beats propelled the music, allowing a dance element to creep from beneath the surface of their music.  You also had to be there to witness drummer James Hamilton, who proved to be a force of reckoning for both bands on the evening, banging and crashing his way into our hearts.  The band were grateful for the audience appreciation, and as they left, I think the majority of the early arrivals were happy to have witnessed their brief set.

Having not seen Mogwai in years, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, as the band used to blow away crowds with walls of post-rock noise.  But, their recent efforts have seemed ultimately quieter, and the band themselves even claimed to be pandering to the yuppie rock crowd at Stubbs.  Still, by the end of the set, I adamantly admit that this band is every bit as ferocious now as they once were.

Their evening began with “White Noise,” the opening track from their most recent effort Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will.  Careful guitar playing and linear video displays created a beautiful opening segment, from which they moved into “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead,” one of their piano-laden tracks.  It’s quite incredible to watch the band, as we all did, noticing how they can go from gentle quiet to crashing calamity in a blink of an eye.  This has always been one of their treasured tricks in the bag, and it’s one that we should all be glad still lives in the heart of these musicians.

While you can tell that Stuart Braithwaite definitely still feels it, moving his entire body in rhythm, I think the clear winner of the night was Errors’ drummer James Hamilton, who pulled double duty on the evening.  That kid was out of his mind good, swinging his arms about, banging those cymbals and snare hits to help create the mood for the band. A drummer is key to the sound of Mogwai, and I believe that the band should grab James full time. 

The latter half of the show developed a little differently, even using more landscape-ish videos to move with the songs.  Though the difference wasn’t huge, with songs like “Mogwai Fear Satan” and “Glasgow Mega-Snake” loudly wrapping up the evening in a wonderful wall of noise and banging.  It left us all with the reminder that while the recordings of Mogwai might have grown more peaceful, the band is still an entirely different beast live, leaving us all with lasting impressions, and for those up front, probably a little ringing in the ears. Cheer fellas.

5 comments

  • I would add that the crowd, for the most part, respected the reverance of their dynamic sound. Quiet moments were allowed to be quiet. Except for a the two gals behind Nathan, of course.

    There are a few more shots at my home for wayward concert photos.
    http://www.photobriangray.com/mogwai

  • Quick update on the drummer situation, Mogwai’s Martin Bulloch was unable to join the band on tour due in North America due to family reasons. Not sure what’s up, but well wishes to Martin. He has a history of heart issues…

  • Family issues = his wife’s just had a baby

  • That is a good family issue.

  • I like to read that someone else believes that Mogwai would be better with James Hamilton. Saw them for the first time with him, then without. Honest, humble opinion. Much better with James. Really not very close. Mind you, I think the second time (both in Toronto) the band had let someone/something get in under their skin. The were super loud, played not a great setlist and were continually telling people to shut up and just listen. Normally crowd yells and reactions were met with yells back and swearing.

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