London - July 1
Post-rock is one of the non-metal genres that most readily appeals to metal audiences. Its penchant for atmosphere and intensity without employing riffs or (usually) vocals sort of casts it as metal's intellectual, artsy brother – still interested in crushing skulls, but with musings on Kierkegaardian despair rather than combat boots. This Will Destroy You from Austin, Texas is one of the post-rock bands that crosses most easily into metal territory, and at their July 1st show at the Garage in Islington, fans were as likely to be sporting a Neurosis t-shirt as a Radiohead one. The band blasted through an 80-minute set that focused on the more rock-oriented aspects of their sound while still revealing their taste for electronics and soundscapes.
Opening the show were locals Codes In The Clouds, who played a pleasant enough but wholly derivative brand of post-rock taking cues from Explosions In The Sky and not much else. They went through their mallet-on-cymbal percussive swells and big, epic crescendos with poise, but the crowd primarily nodded its collective head politely in rhythm because it was competent, not because it was exciting. Still, there were a few "a-ha!" moments in the set that made this reviewer smile in spite of himself, realizing that perhaps a few years down the road, this band could really be something.
The main attraction went on quite early, right around 9 p.m., and burst right into a set containing highlights of their three biggest releases – the Young Mountain EP, the self-titled debut LP, and their latest, Tunnel Blanket. Donovan Jones played the role of de facto frontman, standing center stage with his bass over his shoulders, focused on his complicated keyboard setup, surrounded by effects pedals, sequencers, and tape machines. He was also the only member to address the crowd through the instrumental set, albeit only to berate a rowdy audience member who kept heckling the band between songs.
The rest of the band served their subdued functions, with one guitarist standing and the other seated to deal with his large pedalboard, and a drummer who dealt with the at times very intense crescendos with ease, barely appearing to break a sweat. Perhaps it's the nature of trying to work a rock crowd with live music, but if there was one negative aspect to This Will Destroy You's performance, it was that the electronic and noise elements that are so prevalent on some of the band's studio material felt buried beneath guitar and drums. Songs like They Move On Tracks of Never-Ending Light and Villa Del Refugio are what separated This Will Destroy You from the pack, employing sounds that would be more welcome on a Belong or Fuck Buttons album but still fusing those sounds with more typical Mogwai-influenced post-rock. Those songs weren't played live, and the songs they did play with a strong electronic focus on record felt a lot more rock-oriented. The set was still excellent for what it was, but it lost one dimension that makes the records so great.
The highlights of the set were undoubtedly the two songs played from the excellent self-titled LP (Burial On The Presidio Banks, A Three-Legged Workhorse), and they got the warmest reception from the crowd. Encore closer Quiet from the Young Mountain EP was the perfect way to end the evening, and at only 10:15 p.m., attendees had plenty of time before going to bed for the evening to reflect on what they just saw. It feels safe to assume most of them were at peace when they settled into slumber; such was the tranquil power of the epic set by one of the best post-rock bands working today
“ at times very intense crescendos ”
Setlist: Little Smoke / Glass Realms / Communal Blood / Burial On The Presidio Banks / Black Dunes / There Are Some Remedies Worse Than The Disease / Cosmic Fold / A Three-Legged Workhorse / Quiet
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