This was a great time for fans of the new shoegaze, with these two groups each passing the finely-honed fuzz of My Bloody Valentine through distinct filters. Both made ample use of sustained feedback and strobe lights to complete the sensory overload, but of the two, it was really openers A Place to Bury Strangers who were interested in pushing to extremes.
A sparse crowd, clad mostly in black and peppered with shaved heads, had the vaguely masochistic pleasure of witnessing post-apocalyptic dirges spewed forth from the formidable amp stacks behind Oliver Ackermann et al. Hints of surf (“Deadbeat”) or gloomy pop (“Keep Slipping Away”) surfaced and were just as soon subsumed into auditory chaos as Ackermann stomped effects pedals and Jono Mofo hunched over his bass as if to protect it from hostile sound waves in the air around him. They played through a haze of smoke, even becoming completely obscured through the searing jam that cut “Ego Death” in two. Despite all this, the band skirted the borderline between actual songs and formless sprawls of noise—it was never too long before a familiar melody emerged from the murk.
In contrast, the Big Pink were all about slick showmanship with singer Robbie Furze playing to the crowd like a young Richard Ashcroft and bassist Adam Prendergast flinging his long, straightened hair to and fro. Blockbuster tunes like “Velvet” and “Crystal Visions” were imbued with pomp and power while the classic balladry of “A Brief History of Love” prompted a lone raised lighter from the crowd. As the slower songs piled up though things ground down to a snail’s pace. If not for an explosive take on “Dominoes” to cap off the evening, the previous song, which saw Furze’s lone vocals noticeably dragging next to the other musicians, would have been a sad soporific and a poor last impression. Thankfully, in the end, the Big Pink induced more cheers than yawns and showed us that the spirit of Kevin Shields is alive and kicking in music today.