Show Review: Godspeed You Black Emperor @ The Mohawk (10/10)

Sure, ACL starts tomorrow. Doesn’t mean we get to take off from live music, especially when you have a band like Godspeed You! Black Emperor playing the friendly confines not once, but twice.

Weather did its best to cooperate. The crowd was excited to witness. I was too, I spent a little time with GY!BE many years ago, but they fell off the radar, likely due to the relative silence form the band. But with their first new recorded material in ten years, Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! seemed like the perfect excuse to mount a bit of a tour and take up brief residency at The Mohawk.

Dark, noisy pics and dark, noisy thoughts after the break…

Night two started with David Dondero. Named one of the best living songwriters by NPR, David bashfully took to the stage, awkwardly introducing songs, starting and stopping, restarting, adding footnotes and apologizing for being so nervous. When finally swept into his chords and lyrics, confidence would pour out. Stories of justice and love, best friends and pets would be delivered in a matter of fact manner with just enough clever to not let you pigeonhole David as just another guy raging against a machine.

With no one on stage, it looked like a yard sale waiting on dawn; effects pedals on tables, a myriad of random instruments, every brand, shape and build of amps, monitors and PAs. A few tweaks are made to the gear as the lights dims and a bass-filled loop starts filling the space with noise. The band slowly emerges, adding to the now dizzyingly loud cacophony of layered, orchestrated noise.

You find yourself in a bit of a trance. The bulk of the visual aspect for the show is provided by four projectors with loops of film manipulated by what I am sure is considered a member of the band (they were named for a 70’s documentary, after all). Plans, houses, focus, text, blurring, layers – all of it very complimentary to the sounds being produced. It all appears to be well constructed and then things devolve, either through the song’s course or as the evolution into the next ten commonly themed minutes. Even the brief burst of rain seemed well-timed and choreographed.

The crowd was docile save for a few heads banged at the appropriate times and was very respectful (ie they knew to shut up and listen). You could also easily see that many members were moved by the band’s performance, some closing their eyes, others tearing up. I had to wonder where they went, what did those songs do to or for them? I have had those moments. Loved seeing it.

More pics at the photo site

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