mayo 12, 2008

A Place to Bury Strangers @ The Legion, Londres, 8 de mayo, 2008

The Pity Party
A Place To Bury Strangers
The Legion, Old Street, London
Thursday 8 May, 2008

The Legion Bar is located in fashionably indie Old Street, East London. It's managed by the friendly guys of The Social, so it was by all means the best option to catch A Place to Bury Strangers. It was a small gig in an unpretentious place (in spite of its trendy location), and the door price was only 6 quid, so it was affordable (the price of a pint of Guinness was a dear 3.50, though).

My friend Ira and I got there early, possessed by a feeling of pre-gig excitement. When we got there we saw Oliver Ackerman hanging out outside the venue, enjoying the nice Summery weather that made of London a perpetual carnival. We were too shy to say hello so we got in. There were other five loyal fans inside, and The Pity Party, the army of two that would play first, were sound checking. So we decided to go out, clumsily and shyly talked to Oliver (we told him about our friends Horacio and Ginger, who had seen them in N.C.), talked about the weather, about the Sebadoh gig and about how much we were looking forward to seeing them. Embarrassed by my own social awkwardness, we went for a walk to Shoreditch and came back forty minutes or so later. The place was still half-empty, and I was starting to worry that there would not be enough people to fill the floor space. But soon all my fears would prove unfounded.

I've said before how difficult I find to express with words the experience of music. Nothing I can write here will ever describe with any accuracy what happened that Thursday night in East London. Let me just say that we witnessed three gigs in one, where three different bands proved that independent, innovative music is still being made and that music can still be a means to create communities.

The Pity Party are a duo from Los Angeles. Heisenfiel (drums/keys/vocals/amazing fiery red hair) and M (guitar/vocals/delicious distortion) made an awful lot of sexy noise, inverting the White Stripes formula and offering a very energetic set that left us wanting for more. Heisenfiel's voice and stage presence, her multitasking on stage, combined with M's multi-purpose guitar (that also sounds like a fat bass at moments) made us remember the days of Kill Rock Stars and the Olympia scene. Cheveu, on the other hand, are like an epileptic, drug-crazed French version of Mexican indie band Los Fancy Free, a mix of electro-disco-punk that redefined, with the vocalist's almost retarded stage persona, the term "retro". There was something profoundly mesmerizing about the neo-primitivism of the band, an instinctual aggression that reminded everyone in the place that punk is not dead, it has just moved to France.

Finally, A Place To Bury Strangers. The show, permanently staged against the abstract/fractal projections behind/on top of them (no smoke machine here), went in crescendo, from formless noisy shyness to absolute rock and roll chaos. The audience of all ages (mostly younger, indie fashion-conscious types) just stood there absorbing the sonic blast. There was, indeed, something deadly about all this. The key word here would be, in my book, experience, because A Place To Bury Strangers are not a mere band, they are not just three guys from Brooklyn making music. Their gig redefined the term performance. You could see it in the stillness of the crowd. Under the loudness, you could hear us breathing, our hearts beating. Because A Place to Bury Strangers play as if experiencing a death wish. You had to close your eyes, because, like Ira said, we don't have "earlids". From the cyber-melancholy of "Missing You" to the industrial terrorizing of "To Fix the Gash in Your Head", A Place to Bury Strangers are some sort of grind-cored, psyched-up, death-possessed Jesus and Mary Chain for the 21st century.. "Ocean" was a high moment, the tidal noise broke like waves on soft flesh and hardened hearts. Spector's wall of sound redefined, this tune has the epic proportions of a musical machinery designed to traverse frozen seas. Oliver's vocals became another instrument, and the waves of noise drowned us all. "Breathe" was incredibly appropriate, because the aural hammering was like erotic asphyxiation.

When we went backstage to greet the band (well, mainly Oliver), you could see their faces of sheer pleasure, maybe a similar, even if surely different, to the one they had given us.

I've been to several gigs in London, but I have to say that this small gig (maybe 150 people in the audience? I'm bad at numbers) by A Place to Bury Strangers was one of the best I've ever experienced. Like their song goes, I hope I can see them again.

A Place to Bury Strangers will be opening for Nine Inch Nails in their American tour.

Photos, here.

Missing You