I expect my downstairs neighbor to start banging on their ceiling any minute now. It’s what downstairs neighbor does when my stereo gets too loud. They’ll bang. I’ll stomp my feet on the floor. Maybe they’ll bang again. Downstairs neighbor’s message is simple, “Stop making noise.” I’ll answer with another solid thump, communicating my reply, “Fine, I’ll turn down the music, as long as you quit banging on the ceiling, dude.” I expect downstairs neighbor’s ceiling will have some new cracks by the end of the day, since my stereo will be playing at deaf like an old grandma level until the buzzing from A Place to Bury Strangers abates.
Just as advertised, A Place to Bury Strangers were loud — from the minute they killed the lights in the Tavern, and guitarist Oliver Ackerman, bassist Jono Mofo, and drummer Jay Space took the stage in darkness, they were effects on high, amps on high, ear shattering, gut shaking, foundation quaking loud. Loud was good, but I still needed to be convinced that they were good, good. Sure, they have all the right references — The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, The Cure, Echo and The Bunnymen, and even Sonic Youth, but whenever I listened to A Place to Bury Strangers’ debut disc in the past, I was met with an insatiable urge to revisit the old discs collecting dust in my cd rack.
In a live setting, the who copped whose sound debate, is much less relevant. It’s not important who was the first band to emulate the sound of airplanes landing with an effects pedal, when guitarist Oliver Ackerman is gashing eardrums with his solos and you’re suddenly surrounded by the sound. Who was the lead singer of The Cure? It didn’t bloody matter when A Place to Bury Strangers channeled the isolation, anger, and despair of gothic new wave with such fierce conviction, as they did on “To Fix the Gash in Your Head,” and “I Know I’ll See You Again.” Tomorrow I may care about the Sonic Whats and the Jesus Whos, but Saturday night it was the show that mattered, and A Place to Bury Strangers shredded guitars, ears, and expectations.
To Be a High Powered Executive preceded A Place to Bury Strangers, and did as post-rock bands do — they kept stage talk to a minimum, hunched over their instruments, and jammed on some intricate melodies. Most of their set came from their recently released debut disc, We Don’t Want it Safe, We Want it Secret. Don’t believe the eMusic reviews by DAC from Houston, TX who said, “This Ohio band makes music akin to Explosions In The Sky, Maserati, or Mogwai, but it’s a cut above. One of my top picks of 2007!” Similarly, don’t believe Sumset from Houston, TX who said “This band is so chipper and thin. NO WAY anyone who actually likes the bands referenced in the other review would listen to this! File under Twee-pop instrumental.” To Be a High Powered Executive were solid, maybe a bit repetitive at times, but when they moved their post-rock into math rock territory, they certainly weren’t twee.
Moustache Mountain opened the night with a quiet set of restrained guitar abstractions and tape loops. It was calm, barely noticeable above the chatter in the bar, and quite a contrast with what was to follow later in the night.