Sunday, 27 January 2013

Live Review: A Place To Bury Strangers

Artist: A Place To Bury Strangers:
Supports: Pearls, The Rational Academy
Venue: The Zoo
Date: Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The whole “New York City’s loudest band” tag was always destined to reduce expectation for someone indulging in an A Place To Bury Strangers live show. Although they didn’t tar the band with this brush, the statement is a  typical NMEism and is something the band will always live with, whether it be by people going up to them and stating the fact, or whether it be reading their own press release. I’m not here to state that I’ve have seen louder. That’s beside the point, really. The so called noise terrorism antics take away the real essence of an APTBS’ live show circa 2013.
If I’m honest, my initial thoughts of this band led me to believe they were a bit of a Mary Chain tribute act; however that was just laziness on my part. Their self titled debut is haunting, abrasive and just plain rocking. You’d be hard pressed to find a more solid debut record today. Sure, there’s a Mary Chain/Depeche Mode pastiche, but instead of downer you’re looking more toward upper, which is probably the most obvious contrast here. Nine Inch Nails could’ve used some of APTBS’ panache on their latter albums. It’s no surprise Trent Reznor handpicked the New York trio to support NIN around the States.
From their debut album, Exploding Head, was a subtle variation from its predecessor, tightening up a few loose ends, which result in the album’s title pretty much telling the whole story. Their third album, Worship, is a gem and hints toward the band refining their song-writing quality. This is probably front man, Oliver Ackermann’s finest journey as a song-writer. ‘Fear’ is one of the best songs they’ve written and live it translated brilliantly. Despite the various personnel changes, this latest line-up of Ackermann, bassist, Dion Lunadon, and drummer, Robi Gonzales, seem water tight, even if the latter two look like the bastard children of Richard Hell. In fact, that makes it all the fucking better!

Although live I did expect to have my head pulverized with ear splitting distortion and feedback, I wasn’t disappointed coming out the other side unharmed and empty handed with these preconceptions. APTBS are more than just a feedback drenching experience. Sure, songs such as ‘Drill It Up’ and ‘Revenge’ are rather good representations to those loosely associated with the band, but it’s tracks such as the finely crafted ‘Fear’ and the ethereal ‘Why I Can’t Cry Anymore’ that uncover a new layer previously unheard in the APTBS pantheon. Some songs live seem to lean toward an industrial hybrid that almost feel like chamber rock, which you can’t really gage on record. It’s a place where I expected to be taken to by Nine Inch Nails live, and sadly wasn’t. I’m rather glad APTBS filled the void, albeit surprisingly.
Overall, A Place To Bury Strangers presented a performance that translated into a different experience for me. But different is good and make no mistake, their performance was tight; a proper collective effort. Local support act, The Rational Academy, owned, too, on the back of their new album, Winter Haunts, presenting an experimental psych pop/shoegaze stomp, while Melbourne trio, Pearls, also had their moments. It was a good night for the minority that filled The Zoo’s floor space.
…Which leads me to end this review on a rather acerbic note and one I didn’t really intend to touch on, seeming as though this blog is designed for happy escapism. The attendance numbers were piss poor. Saying there were eighty people in the audience is stretching the truth. Okay, so times aren’t the healthiest, but that doesn’t stop the majority jerking off over the latest IPhone version and paying through the nose to endure such an empty pleasure. Thirty five dollars, people. And yes, you can bring your IPhone and update your Facebook status, I’m pretty sure there’d be reception.
For years Brisbane folk have pissed and moaned about being the ones to miss out on acclaimed touring acts. We are lucky enough Heathen Skulls’ Robert McManus has the vision to quash these notions yet we fail to extend our gratitude to people like him who actually seem to care and continuously bring international bands to Brisbane. Are we a community that isn’t happy unless we’re having a moan? Start showing some love otherwise soon enough there will be nothing to love.
Simon K.