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  MOGWAI w/ Bardo Pond  
  The Variety Playhouse  
  Atlanta, GA  
Reviewed by:
  Tracers and PostLibyan  
Performance Rating:
Sound Quality:
Overall Rating:

TRACERS: Anyway Brendan, on Tuesday night PostLibyan and I went and saw Mogwai, with Bardo Pond opening. We got there really early, so we got nice seats and a table -- I felt like such a grown up.

As to Bardo Pond -- i'll admit it -- I don't think I'd ever heard their music before.

POSTLIBYAN: I am familiar with Bardo Pond. I have two of their albums: 1996's Amanita and 1997's Lapsed. I also used to own a copy of 1999's Set And Setting, but i sold it on the Internet because i hated it.

Basically Bardo Pond started out as some sort of intensely psychedelic drone band. I really enjoy the sonic textures on those earlier LP's. By 1999 they had become less drone and more bluesy. They had become like Black Sabbath, or rather an incomplete clone thereof. I was no longer impressed.

TRACERS: They opened with this really cool instrumental drone number with flute. I liked it a lot.

POSTLIBYAN: This first song reminded more of their early work -- texture created by layering tone after tone on top of each other. However, soon thereafter they fell into their Black Sabbath phase, and i became bored.

TRACERS: I especially liked the unintentional visual effect of having a purple light shining through one of Mogwai drummer's toms (which were set up at the back of the stage). It gave this eerie glowing lavender effect. neat.

And I have to admit I really liked this other song where the Mogwai drummer came out and played along with Bardo Pond's drummer. Admittedly they played the exact same riff (which is impressive in its own way), but it was a neat display (and for once the drums overshadowed the droning guitars).

POSTLIBYAN: This was interesting i suppose. They both played EXACTLY the same thing -- which just basically made the drum part louder on that song. However -- i must ask, what was the point? Maybe it's because i just saw Tortoise recently and they had two drummer's playing DIFFERENT riffs, but i wasn't that impressed. Yes, it was a remarkable display of tandem drumming, and it really showed how well rehearsed they were. But i would have been more impressed if they had played different parts....

TRACERS: I was about to suggest that maybe the synchronicity was the point. However, thinking back, although the drummers played the same riff essentially,they weren't doing exactly the drum combinations (for instance, the Mogwai drummer used his ride cymbal more).

But otherwise I'd like the guitar drone, or the drumming, or some other little bit of each song but that was it. I hated the vocalist. She looked like she wanted to be Patti Smith (circa Horses) and sounded like...i don't know...some ethereal new age chick. so, I could have done without Bardo Pond.

POSTLIBYAN: On the whole, i was not impressed. It started off okay, but then degenerated.

TRACERS: Then Mogwai came on and i really liked their set. They really know how to use volume to good effect. And I liked the interplay between the instruments -- each would be playing a fairly simple repetition, but all together it would build into something greater than just the parts. And you could tell that despite the simplicity, this was all carefully crafted. So they were impressive, if a bit on the ungodly loud side.

POSTLIBYAN: I loved the Mogwai set, and i hated the Mogwai set. It was full of beautifully intricate guitar work, and some really long drawn out feedback sessions.

No, really, i like feedback. I listen to that sort of stuff sitting around my apartment. In a live setting, however, it just seemed as if Mogwai were, well to use a term from their culture, "wanking". It was unnecessary. This is especially true when you consider that the other half of the Mogwai set was full of chiming guitar melodies of such intricate and fragile beauty that it made me lose myself completely in the melody. That stuff was really really stunning. Then they would cover the beauty with Noise just to prove how manly they are or something.

TRACERS: Exactly. And because so much of their stuff was beautiful and entrancing, I was willing to work with them on the feedback -- up to a point. Actually, I remember thinking during their set, "a-ha! perhaps
I have actually found some feedback with a point"

POSTLIBYAN: I found myself looking at my watch during the feedback-y sections and thinking, "Alright, get on with it. Do something slow and beautiful next...."

I also feel that i must point out that the first really feedbacky song they played had a part in the middle when all three guitarists were playing an abrupt staccato rhythm. The song is on Ten Rapid i think, but i am terrible with song names. Anyway, as they were pounding away up there it seemed, for several minutes, as if they had merged their song into a cover of Good Morning Captain by Slint. I kept thinking that lead Mogwai Stuart Braithewaite was going to step up to the microphone and start wailing out some Slint. It was, i guess, just a coincidence!

TRACERS: HOWEVER, after their set, they came for the encore. From hell. 25 minutes of droning, masturbatory feedback and screeching. talk about self-indulgent. i couldn't believe it. UGH.

POSTLIBYAN: Exactly -- i kept waiting for them to end the feedback and instead move on to close with something slow and lovely. Eventually i gave up and then we left...

There is something i have to say though. The loud feedback-y portions of the set remind me of listenting to Slint records. The quiet parts remind me of The For Carnation, which features the vocalist from Slint. I might be making this comparison because i have Slint on the brain after thinking about that song Mogwai did, but the slower stuff really ebbs and flows and chimes like The For Carnation did when we saw them.

The slower parts of the Mogwai show could go head to head with that amazing show by The For Carnation for sheer beauty. They were that good. However, that was only half of the show. The other half was self-indulgent. this brings the show down, in my opinion.

TRACERS: I'm with you on this opinion -- at times I'd be watching them and think "this is the best show I've seen in a looooonnnnggg time" and then *poof* it's feedback time. But I was at home by midnight, so I guess i can't complain.

POSTLIBYAN: On the whole, i would say that this was an okay night. However, there were some moments that were so amazing that i think they
overpower the crappier feedback moments.

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