The Big Pink, A Place To Bury Strangers
April 9, 2010
Better than: Tinnitus, but only by a little.
Heading into Friday night's show at the Granada Theater, you had the feeling it was gonna be a special night. Electro-rock act The Big Pink was making its concert debut in Dallas to support A Brief History of Love, a real solid album with a couple of real earworms on it--most notably, the arena-ready "Dominos."
And with the even louder A Place to Bury Strangers lined up as the band's opening act, it seemed a sure thing that this would be a big night.
When the lights fell and the smoke machine cranked up, the trio behind the A Place to Bury Strangers name took the dimly backlit stage and launched into performance as the best My-Bloody-Valentine-as-a-trio tribute band I've ever heard.
Well, except for the good parts of My Bloody Valentine, like melody, lyrics, stuff like that.
Actually, the part they really seemed to have mastered is the LOUD part. And since the guitar parts of the band's songs really require at least two guitars (guitarist Jono MOFO quit the band before this tour), MOFO's parts were provided through pre-recorded tracks. And, just in case you still had some vestiges of hearing, the band really cranked things up towards the end of its set, throwing in exciting, strobe-lit, watch-me-toss-my-tortured-guitar-around action. But whereas My Bloody Valentine's 14 minutes of white noise to me was ultimately a weirdly hilarious and cathartic mind-wipe, this climax proved to be an ear-splitting headache.
Even my inner dialogue at this point answered itself by yelling "What????"
Good thing The Big Pink's performance still loomed with the chance to redeem things.
And up came the curtain to reveal a four-piece band with Robbie Furze (guitar/vocals) and Milo Cordell (keyboards/vocals) joined by a bass player seemingly plucked from Marilyn Manson's entourage and a Japanese chick playing drums.
Kicking off with "To Young To Love," Furze was all leather-clad swagger but making a real go at showing appreciation to the reasonably full theater. Furze pretty much stayed in "Dementor" character, covered by a hoodie and hunched over the keyboard.
As if in competition with the opening act, all volume knobs were turned to 11, even if the lighting made the band more accessible.
The songs revealed themselves to be a bit more guitar-driven than on record, and really not quite as compelling as either. "Velvet" really fell kind of flat, and it went downhill from there. A truly plodding "Count Backwards From Ten" didn't help.
Taking stock of the other disappointed faces around the theater, it was clear others felt the same. This was not the performance in which audiences wanted to lose their hearing, turned out.
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Despite all of its glory, a good chunk of the audience didn't even remain to hear "Dominos," likely the single song that drew crowds to this show in the first place.
Personal Bias: I really don't mind loud in the presence of melody, even if the melody is ultimately buried under a sonic wash. But this offering was a little ridiculous.
Random Note: I had gone to the Yeasayer show the night before and was struck by the industrial, windowless truck-van they were traveling in. By contrast, The Big Pink was traveling in a shiny tour bus, demonstrating big label backing and a bit of hubris.
By The Way: As I write this review, I'm still yelling "WHAT???" in my head.