Concert Review: A Place To Bury Strangers live in Melbourne, 12 February 2010

20 Feb

Since I won’t have much time to write in the coming week, today I have been trying to get through my backlog of concerts to review. After my Porcupine Tree jaunt, the next band on my calendar was quite a change of pace: American noise rockers A Place To Bury Strangers on their first visit to Australia. Their Aussie visit was even shorter than Porcupine Tree’s, featuring gigs solely in Sydney and Melbourne. I was in attendance at the Melbourne concert, held at the Corner Hotel in the inner suburb of Richmond.

I unfortunately missed the first opener, Pets With Pets. I was able to get to the venue in time for the second opener, Three Month Sunset. When I first saw guitarist Gabriel Lewis, Three Month Sunset was his solo project, creating beautiful soundscapes as an opener for Laura in September 2008. Now, Three Month Sunset is a full band that even has vocals courtesy of Lucy Buckeridge. Clearly in the time it took him to assemble a full band, Lewis and his partners in crime have been listening to the likes of Slowdive. The washed out soundscapes of the Interpretations Of Air EP are now more fully formed into songs, Buckeridge’s vocals are an ideal fit, and I see a promising future for the band.

A Place To Bury Strangers are the kind of band who will show you why earplugs are a good idea at some concerts. I may have enjoyed Porcupine Tree sans earplugs, but due to both APTBS’s volume and the unintended distortion generated by their already heavily distorted music rattling around within the confines of the Corner, plugs came in handy to simply appreciate the nuance and depth of what they were playing. When music is already this heavily washed out by noise, you don’t want the inadequacies of the venue to blur it into a mush, and good earplugs counter that – without even reducing the intensity of the experience.

And what an experience! APTBS had a sparse stage with even more sparse lighting, performing with only the most minimal effects in a sort of half-darkness. In much the same way as their compositions are partially hidden beneath liberal use of the effects pedal, the band members themselves were partially hidden by the darkness. It was the right vibe.

I’m not perfectly versed on the intricacies of the band’s discography, so I did not recognise the first two songs of their set, but they were an undeniable experience in noise. The show really took off with the third song – and my favourite from their two full albums – Don’t Think Lover. An even more noisy experience than on the album, the song’s fantastic melody filtered through beneath the distortion and the energy was infectious. It was followed by another cut from their eponymous debut, To Fix The Gash In Your Head, and then the title track of second album Exploding Head. This scorching trio was perhaps the highlight of the night; images of the band member’s silhouettes moving across stage in the half-light are burned in my memory.

I’m somewhat at a loss to explain how three guys are able to create such a noise. I wonder if this review will set some sort of a record for the use of ‘noise’ and ‘distortion’? I would arm myself with an arsenal of synonyms, but I feel it would be pointless – might as well call a spade a spade and a distorted noise a distorted noise. Such was the cacophany that some songs were not immediately identifiable. The band powered through multiple cuts from Exploding Head with distorted finesse; Deadbeat and In Your Heart were the choice cuts. Deadbeat in particular endeared itself to me; I’ve always liked its melody but it had never quite struck me as much as it did live.

There was another contender for highlight of the night that may have outdone the trio from Don’t Think Lover. I fully expected the band to perform my favourite track from Exploding Head, I Live My Life To Stand In The Shadow Of Your Heart, since its conclusion seems set up ideally for live noise jamming. I never expected it to be so epic. The band ripped into the song, performed the verses and chorus as they appear on the album, and then launched into a lengthy noise jam that seemed to almost extend into eternity. Clocking in at over 15 minutes in length, it was a sonic experience unlike any other I’ve had at a concert, at times contemplative and at times pummelling. It climaxed by seguing into the concert closer, Ocean. Few concert conclusions have been more satisfying.

APTBS didn’t need to play an encore – the noise jam had said everything they needed to say. Really, my only disappointment is that It Is Nothing was not included in the setlist. Small quibble, though. A bigger quibble is with the audience; I find myself increasingly disheartened by the apathetic crowds at the Corner. Too often I feel people are showing up to be seen, and are too cool to visibly get into what’s happening on stage. But as far as APTBS themselves go, they get an easy, noisy, distorted 4/5.

Incomplete setlist:

Two unknown songs
Don’t Think Lover
To Fix The Gash In Your Head
Exploding Head
Multiple songs including In Your Heart and Deadbeat
I Live My Life To Stand In The Shadow Of Your Heart –>
Ocean

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3 Responses to “Concert Review: A Place To Bury Strangers live in Melbourne, 12 February 2010”

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  1. WebliminalBlog : links for 2010-02-21 - 21/02/2010

    […] Concert Review: A Place To Bury Strangers live in Melbourne, 12 February 2010 « An Ocean of Noise "Few concert conclusions have been more satisfying." (tags: aptbs melbourne australia review) var addthis_pub = ''; var addthis_language = 'en';var addthis_options = 'email, favorites, digg, delicious, myspace, google, facebook, reddit, live, more'; Posted by ernie on Sunday, February 21, 2010, at 6:16 am. Filed under Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post with its comments RSS feed. You can post a comment or trackback from your blog. […]

  2. WebliminalBlog : A Place to Bury Strangers, Reviews of the Australia Shows - 02/03/2010

    […] Concert Review: A Place To Bury Strangers live in Melbourne, 12 February 2010 « An Ocean of Noise "Few concert conclusions have been more satisfying." (tags: aptbs melbourne australia review) var addthis_language = 'en';var addthis_options = 'email, favorites, digg, delicious, myspace, google, facebook, reddit, live, more'; Posted by ernie on Thursday, February 18, 2010, at 6:12 am. Filed under Uncategorized. Tagged A Place to Bury Strangers, aptbs, australia, reviews. Follow any responses to this post with its comments RSS feed. You can post a comment or trackback from your blog. […]

  3. Concert review: The Shadows and some other guy, 13 February 2010, Melbourne « An Ocean of Noise - 05/03/2010

    […] by Axver Last time I posted, I reviewed a gig by noise rockers A Place To Bury Strangers at Melbourne club The Corner. So, what do you think I […]

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