Walk toward the light, and bring earplugs. CREDIT.
Thursday, Sept. 18
Have you noticed that every writeup of those imminent My Bloody Valentine shows says “They’re sure to be incredibly loud” as opposed to “They’re sure to be incredibly good”? This is always the danger with Mogwai, that their beloved quiet-quiet-quiet-LOUD-LOUD-LOUD style will subsume their substance, will suck the drama out of their often brutally beautiful songs and turn everything into a cheap on/off-switch parlor trick. Tonight, as they prepare to scoot upstate and join MBV for this weekend’s All Tomorrow’s Parties hoedown, our affable heroes run about half and half. Sorry if this is blasphemy, but first thing they gotta do is retire “Mogwai Fear Satan.”
Yes, it is their most famous song, their most epic blend of serenity and shrieking mayhem, but during the soft parts they look just incredibly bored. “Like Herod,” another beloved on/off banger, fares a bit better—generally these dudes seem happier the closer they inch toward pure metal, as evinced on their new The Hawk Is Howling, wherein the punishing thrasher “Batcat” shines brightest. But the highlight tonight, oddly enough, is “Friend of the Night,” off 2006’s vastly underrated Mr. Beast, delicate and piano-driven, eventually rising to a gale-force finale but getting there slowly, calmly, naturally, without all these peek-a-boo gut-punches that’ve served Mogwai well but lack the staying power to pique even their interest anymore. So out with “Satan”… in with “Christmas Steps,” perhaps?