My Bloody Valentine | New Fumes Saturday, August 17, 2013 Verizon Theatre
There is a universal truth about My Bloody Valentine, agreed upon by nearly everything ever written about them. They play ridiculously loud.
It was at about two thirds of their way into "A New You," a soft poppy gem by their standards, that I thought I might be able to attend a MBV performance without the use of ear plugs and live to tell about it. But then came the five minute-plus earth-shattering one-note break down at the end of "Feed Me With Your Kiss," which was the probably the single most loudest moment at a live performance I have ever witnessed. That thunderous moment of sound was like your average helicopter landing and then exploding. To those of you who were at ground zero, on the floor space just under the deafening performance, I hope you're OK.
So the reviews are true. This weekend was my first time witnessing their extreme volume first-hand, and the tinnitus I will be experiencing for the very forseeable future is an unpleasant physical testament to that.
However, MBV's unrelenting volume shouldn't be their sole defining live characteristic. Once you get past their brutality of their artistically crafted noise, they also happen to put on a rather amazing show. Let's not forget Kevin Shields' romantically dazzling songwriting. And as a band, a My Bloody Valentine has a unique style of energy all their own.
The chaotic song, "Only Shallow," split the show at its halfway point with full, deafening joy. Teetering between gorgeous melodic verses and a tumultuous chorus, this song may have encapsulated the general vibe of the entire show. And the energy of the band was evident. Despite the downward gazing that took place, there was plenty of head bobbing and guitar wailing happening among band members. A My Bloody Valentine show indeed has energy, it's just a different classification of energy than many other bands.
With virtually zero banter, and only the casual looks given from band members between songs, MBV gives a generally business-like performance. Twice during their set, Shields stopped playing altogether, expressing frustration over equipment issues. I can only imagine how involved the sound check process must be. Shields may or may not be a perfectionist, but he definitely demands ownership of his brand of unparalleled audio mastery.
And who can blame him? He's the mastermind behind the influential sounds he has created, and he deserves every right to get all flustered over Marshall amp number two.
Despite the minor sound setbacks, there was not one moment of disappointment during there set. The set list featured material from their newest album in moderation -- the show consisted of mostly fan favorites. Although I was disappointed I didn't get to hear "She Found Now," from m b v, it was a disappointment soon forgotten when my own personal favorite, "When You Sleep" was finally crossed off my live performance wish list.
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And there couldn't have been a better show opener than local one-man band Daniel Huffman, a.k.a. New Fumes. Condensed layers of pop noise and catchy hypnotic beats make Huffman a hard act to follow, even for MBV. Between his multiple dimensions of sonic fuzz, and trance-inducing rhythms, as well as the uncomfortable visuals displayed on the screen behind him, "You don't have to be on drugs to like that shit," as one bystander so poetically put it.
Both New Fumes and My Bloody Valentine created auditory and visual at the Verizon Theatre. When all was said and done, despite the cramming of spongy plugs or jamming fingers into their ears, most everyone in attendance swayed and bobbed wearing smiles on their faces.
We fans may have been talking louder than the appropriate levels in the wee morning hours following their show just to hear our own voices. The shared experience of witnessing MBV's gorgeous performance is something more special than just the pushing of boundaries in modern amplification.